Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

Viola Fuller Canonge Frew; Queen of the Universe

I feel a little like we ran a marathon.   Tired but happy to have crossed the finish line.    My family spent much of last week and all of yesterday in my 92-year-old Grandmother’s room at a local care facility.   Grandma has had Alzheimer’s for the last several years.  About a year ago she moved to Washington State to be near family.     Over the last year we’ve visited Grandma, talked about the past, listened to a whole variety of interesting stories brought on by her disease and medications and generally gotten to know my mother’s mother.    God has been so merciful to my grandmother and to our family.   At times she thought she was getting married again, once she thought she was going to be crowned the Queen of the Universe.  She was disappointed though because the crown they gave her was made of wood.   However, she never lost sight of her faith, or of who her family members were.

About a month ago, on my mother’s birthday as it should happen, the doctors told us that Grandma was terminal.   Part of me inside thought it was a silly thing to say, after all, we’re all terminal.   But to know it’s imminent is a different matter.   And so Hospice became a part of our lives and watching became our past time.      It’s not a fun thing to watch someone you love prepare to die.  Our bodies break down.   But it is an honor to be present.

Yesterday, we spent most of the day in Grandma’s room at her bedside.  She was comfortable, a combination of morphine and methadone will do that.   She was not alert or able to communicate.   However, if we sang to her, she’d raise her eyebrows.   There is some debate about if it was because she was enjoying the music or if it was because we sing off-key.    At any rate, we worked our way through an old Nazarene hymnal.   We sang Old Rugged Cross, Blessed Assurance, Fairest Lord Jesus.   At one point we got a little loopy and started singing children’s songs.   My aunt laughed when mom and I broke into Let’s all sing like the birdies do.   Grandma raised her eyebrows.

We ate trail mix and fruit and cookies.  We looked through photo albums.   We called relatives around the globe and they took turns saying goodbye to Grandma.    We sat quietly and listened to her breathing.     I’ve never heard anything like it before.  One of the hymns talked about praising God as long as He loaned us breath.   It made a lot of sense in that quiet room.

Yesterday was the 18th anniversary of my Uncle Ron’s heaven day.  When he had his bone marrow transplant he had to go to Wisconsin.  My aunt had to stay in Pennsylvania to be near their daughter Annie who was going through treatment for leukemia.  My grandmother is the one who went to Wisconsin to be with Ron.    I’m confident that Ron was among the greeters in Heaven watching and waiting for Grandma to arrive.     Annie’s heaven day is April 6th.    April 6th is also the day that my daughter (and my cousin’s daughter) was due to be born.    I love the symmetry that God weaves into families.  This is the same creator who made butterflies and buttercups.   But He’s also the creator of calculus.   I love that all creation fits into a pattern and that He watches and timed these dates to provide comfort and a reminder that He is the one in control of all of our days.

At six fourteen last night, Grandma took her last breath.  Two minutes later, her pulse stopped.   It was peaceful. No struggle.  Grandma crossed the finish line and finished her race.    I took a big breath.    Grandma received a crown of glory for a life surrendered to the king. I promise you that this one was not wooden.

My Jesus, I love thee.

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I love Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
(Oh my saviour) If ever I love Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

It is now (if ever I love my Saviour, ’tis now )
It is now (if ever I love my Saviour, ’tis now)

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
If ever I love Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.




Filed under Family

Pictures of December

Its only eight days into December.  I feel like I’ve had my quota of Christmas emotions already.  I’m not sure I can handle any more joy or tears or bittersweet moments.

This year trimming our tree had more meaning than normal.  It’s because the five-year-old wanted to the know the history of every ornament.    We showed her some from trips, some she’d made, some from our childhoods.

Saturday we had our practice for the annual preschool bell choir.   After practice, I was a tad worried.  We had several criers, a cacophony of dropped bells and whispers instead of voices during practice for reciting their Bible verses.   We gave the kids entirely too much sugar and sent them home.

This is Alex.   Alex has tried in years previous to participate and due to sensory overload and autism it hasn’t worked out.  This year we were determined.   We were also praying.

Sunday morning came and all the kids were amazing.   They recited their verses.  The bells actually sounded like the songs.   And Alex….well….Alex was amazing.    He sat quietly on his mom’s lap, he rang his bell at the right time,  he smiled and he said his name.   I cried my way through both performances.    I think most people did.   It was such a beautiful picture of patience and love and it was a Christmas miracle.

This is my grandmother.   She has Alzheimer’s.   My sister and my daughter and I visit her once a week.   Some weeks she doesn’t open her eyes.   Some weeks she talks to people who don’t exist.    This week, she held our hands.  She smiled at my daughter.   We told her we loved her and she said she loved us as well.     It was sweet and sad and beautiful.   It was a Christmas miracle.

This is a pot of blackberry syrup.   All summer long I spent time battling blackberries and effectively filled our entire freezer with them.   My husband was gone for the evening so I dragged my daughter to Wal-Mart and Winco (and that’s a blog all in itself) and we came home to make blackberry syrup.

I was extremely worried that I was breaking my blender.   It is actually my blender.   I think I’d seen too many movies with people blending things so last Christmas I told the resident chef that I wanted a blender and he delivered.   I hadn’t used it yet.   He uses it all the time.   I didn’t even know where it was stored.   Luckily my daughter did.   Anyway, I was very worried about the nine cups of frozen blackberries jamming up the motor and burning it up so I tried blending them one cup at a time.   This was really a pain.

The next step in the recipe said to strain out the seeds.    I couldn’t find a strainer.   I called and texted and emailed my spouse.  He didn’t respond.   I point this out because I believe what happened next is really his fault.     I decided to skip the straining step.    Jam has seeds.  Why can’t syrup?

My daughter and I successfully made our way through the rest of the steps and were about ready to can the syrup when the chef got home.    He looked at it and said “That’s not sryup.  It has seeds”.    I won’t bore you with the next bit of conversation but I’ll let you know that I put the syrup down the garbage disposal and vowed never to touch the blackberries or the blender or the stove again.

The next day I got a text from the chef.   He said “I bought you a present”.     I figured this was a nice way of trying to apologize for insulting my cooking.    I texted back ” What is it?”    He replied “A strainer”.      I was not amused.

So, on Tuesday night,  I successfully made and canned seven jars of blackberry syrup.   I am still best buddies with my spouse.   It was fun and time-consuming and a pain and succesful.    It was a Christmas miracle.

I’d like to know if you’ve had any miracles yet this season?

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Filed under Faith, Family, Food