Wednesday, May 28


...I am writing this a year and a half after my mom died peacefully in our home here in the countryside of Virginia. What a surprise to find that it is exactly eighteen months, when I check the calendar for today's date. For awhile now, I've wanted to write a small post for you to find should you come here for the first time and wonder what it is all about and how to get around. I will explain those things in just a moment, but this is a good opportunity to weave a few loose threads into the fabric of this journal...

After Mom died, I was unsure if I would go on writing here. It would seem that the answer is "no", for the most part. Tho' there have been so many small milestones and observances...when we moved into her room last Summer...when her car officially became mine and I changed out her Baebug plates for plain ones...the first Mother's Day without her, and then another...the first birthdays (my own and hers)...the selling of her beach house...every full moon when we toast her gentle passing and her lively life. 

In fact, there is really only one big step left to take, and we will do that next month when we spread her ashes in Kauai, as she always wanted us to do. There have been so many tiny steps and feelings in these past months, scattered amongst the large ones, but they have mostly led to a place of happiness...when my glance falls on the photo of her eighteen-year-old self that keeps me company in my studio at the moment...or when I realized last month that I am no longer taking care of her in my dreams-my mom, my before-Alzheimer's mom-has returned to me when I sleep.

This blog begins in 2010 and the first post may be found here, if you'd like to read from the very beginning.  At the bottom of that and every other post, you will see a "newer post" and "older post" at the bottom of the page below the comments. That is a simple way to read through post after post, in order, with those first two years of posts being all about the caregiving. 

In late November of 2012, when we realized that Mom was leaving us, I wrote more often than usual and that last part of the journey is chronicled, beginning with this post.  In the sidebar on the left are the Archives with links to each and every post I've made here, as well as to the About page that I wrote in 2010. At the time, I thought that these caregiving years would go on much longer than they did. For my mom's sake and our own, I am grateful that they didn't...for the sad days and moments were definitely beginning to outnumber the happy or peaceful ones. 

Whatever brings you here, but especially if you are taking care of a loved one with dementia, I hope that you find something that helps you to go on, with compassion and tenderness, and perhaps even occasionally, joy.



Friday, November 8

Wednesday, December 26


my beautiful mother
June 30, 1931-November 28, 2012

Lois Hooker Padgett died peacefully, with her family at her side, at home in the countryside of Virginia, on Wednesday, November 28th, as the sun set and the full moon rose. She was 81.

She was pre-deceased by her beloved brother Jim and leaves behind her children-Jamie (wife Chiara and children Jessie and Sean), Lesley (husband and 'favorite son-in-law' Douglas and children Sam and Caleb), Chris (wife Sandy and children Drew, Tim, Matthew and Jonathan) and Drew.

Born Grace Lois Hooker in Long Beach, CA, she most cherished family, home and friends. She attended the Montverde School in FL, Duke University and served in the US Navy before beginning her years as a loving wife, mother and grandmother.

Tho' early years found her traveling the world as the daughter of a Navy doctor, and the middle years making homes around the country as the wife of a Navy officer, she realized her dream of building a beach house at Sandbridge in 2000 and spent many happy years there until joining Les and Doug at their home in King and Queen county in 2009.

She had a gift for delighting in Life and was able to continue to do so through much of her journey with Alzheimer's. She greatly blessed all who knew her.

An Open House will take place on December 30th; email for details. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Unicef, Audrey Hepburn and Lois' favorite charity.

...this is the short obituary my brother and I wrote today. It should appear in the Virginian-Pilot tomorrow or the next day. And on Sunday, we will gather with Mom's local friends to joyfully remember her-together. 

My three brothers and their families are arriving in a few days...we will have much to sort out and prepare for. One of the details we will probably discuss is the manifesting of the one thing Mom always asked for at her death-that the whole family scatter her ashes in her beloved Hawaii. She wanted us to "get a trip out of it". And I hope we shall. It got me through those first hard days...picturing us all there together, finally, making one of her wishes come true...


Thursday, December 13

trying... keep chronicling life with my camera, but the photos are mostly out-of-focus, tho' my settings are all the same. Is it me or the camera? Probably me, as I feel rather out-of-focus myself... read helpful books...but can't concentrate very it is mostly novels that simply take me away. Soon I will pick up Winter will be just right, I think...

 get out...with dear people and lights and music...and it is always good. Sometimes eating and drinking lovely things while my husband and others play with abandon....sometimes hanging out in the grocery store with beloved young men who break into dance...

A difficult outing was to the Respite Christmas party, to see all of the people who had become so dear-to Mom and to me-over the past two years. After all the hugs and tears and good wishes, I left the bustle to quietly take in the exhibit of paintings done that summer, paintings I had never seen. One was Mom's...

...and I was brought to my knees by the sweet and unexpected message I found with the painting...

...and then another, at a friends house...I was helping with her Christmas decorations, distracted as always by the books on the shelf nearby. I pulled out one that I vaguely remembered giving to my friend's daughter many years ago....we read my inscription together, and I was putting the book back when my friend turned the pages to my mom's inscription when she had given the book to me, years before that....

I know that I will continue to receive these messages...probably for the rest of my life. Mom was always, always generous to me. I am surrounded by tokens of her love.


I understand that one day those messages will be wholly welcome to me and that one day I will stop spending so much of my energy trying mind my gaze falling on all of the reminders of her recent see the photos of her that come up on my screensaver and in my library of photos when I gather them for a blog want to run away from all of the decisions, large and small that must be made...

There are three things that don't take any trying...filling most of my hours with the simple work of uncluttering, arranging, cleaning and other homely tasks. Watching movies and television shows when I am too tired from my exertions to move another inch. Digging and planting in the garden and the wild hedgerows with my beloved.

Funny, tho', how my favorite shows lately are filled with life and death and the very real details of both (Call the Midwife and William and Mary)....details that would not have touched me so if I had watched them a mere four and a half weeks ago.

I've been trying to sort out why I feel so lost, so often. I think it is because....I thought I was in this for the long haul....I thought we would see this coming from a long way off. Instead, it happened so quickly, so surprisingly, so swiftly. And yes, she went beautifully and peacefully, and I wouldn't have wanted her to stay to face a life of pain and confusion...but the changes have been hard to take in. At first....I likened it to losing a spouse...because there was "her" chair...there were "her" clothes...there were all the routines and rhythms we had become so used to over the years...but that wasn't really it.

Then I likened it to losing a child-without the tragedy, of course-for I did so much for Mom that we do for our children. I took care of all her needs, bought all of her clothes, bathed and dressed her, prepared the environment for her, entertained her and put her down for naps (and hoped they were long ones!), tucked her in at night with a kiss and always the same words...but that wasn't right, either.

Just now, I am not trying so hard...what to liken it to, how to proceed. I am doing what I am led to do...and what needs to be done...letting go of a lot, trusting that everyone and everything will wait for me...knowing it will all fall into place again one day...and that Mom's messages will bring more smiles than tears, and that old book pages blowing in the wind won't seem so profound to me...

I will write again soon with some details about what we are doing to honor Mom in the weeks to come, for I know some of you have been wondering...