November 29, 2006
Today was a much, much better day. I don’t know why, it just was. I spent most of it with Mom helping her finish Christmas shopping. We have so much fun together. It is sad for me to see how her health is declining and her age is catching up with her. She has problems breathing now, and she wears out pretty fast if she doesn’t have a cart to lean on/push ahead of her. We always seem to manage to find something for her to use and then she is much better. 
I know she is worried though…she figures she will have to have tests done to find out what is the matter, and she doesn’t want to do that before the wedding. Stephen is her first grandchild to be married and they also have a special relationship because even as an adult he has made his grandparents a priority. 
Mom wants to completely enjoy this wedding and all that surrounds it without thinking about tests and diagnosis. I figure it is one of possibly three things: Emphysema, Congestive Heart Failure, or lung cancer. I hope it is none of the above, but I am trying to be realistic. She just gets so short of breath. On the other hand, she goes bowling and square dancing, and round dancing and golf’s!! She still keeps her own house, goes up and down the stairs at home. It really makes no sense. But we will see. 
2006 has not been the best of years, and I hope 2007 isn’t worse. I would be broken hearted to lose my Mom. I would miss her terribly if she went Home. 
God blessed me a few weeks ago when we were going through the airport on our way to get the plane to Kansas City. She was telling me that my Dad wanted to go to Catholic services Saturday night and she said she was going to church on Sunday with Stephen and Anne and me in Kansas City. She told me my Dad said, “That’s not a Catholic church” and my Mom told him it didn’t matter to her, “Because I am a born again Christian!”  
I could have fallen down and just bawled. I led her to Christ many years ago, but I have never heard her say that before. What a sweet thing for God to do for me- almost as though He is preparing me for losing her. I have prayed many times that He would confirm for me their salvation and in Mom’s case He did.

One of our Mother/Daughter traditions was the annual day after Thanksgiving shopping trip. Mom and I did this all my adult life I think. It became a wonderful and tender bond we shared. Before Thanksgiving, Dad would send out the call for the Christmas lists and on Thanksgiving Day Mom and I would spend the evening after dinner going over the lists and comparing them with the sale ads, then plotting out shopping route for maximum advantage. 
We would spend all day Friday at this wonderful task. I would pick Mom up after her weekly hair appointment and we would head out to the stores. It was a madhouse and something we both loved. We endured the traffic and the crowds and the lines of people joyfully joking with each other. Lunch was always on the menu of the day. We would sit and relax and discuss our purchases and how once again we conquered the day.  
As the years went by, I could tell it was getting harder for Mom to walk and shop. She trudged along though, telling me that if she held on to the cart it made it easier for her. I rationalized that she was getting older and as she entered her eighties I did not think a little shortness of breath was a big issue.

March 20, 2007
Tonight I am struggling with all that is presenting itself into my life. The “loss” of my 2 sons, and my parent’s demise is weighing heavily upon my heart. Mom is so bad off, she can’t hear or see now because her hearing aid broke and she has a loaner that sucks. I was there tonight for a few hours (which was not enough for her) and tried to fix the cell phone so she can find the speaker phone button, and the auto dial button. Once I fixed that the cover won’t close. 

The computer that I thought would be the answer to opening up her world has been an expensive boondoggle. She can’t see the prompts, she can’t use the mouse, and there is stuff that keeps popping up on the screen she can’t see and doesn’t know what to do with it.

I don’t have the time to live there with her! I can’t abandon my own life for her, can I? How can I be there and here and church all at the same time? Jake certainly still needs a Mom, Lar needs a wife. I have obligations. What do I do Lord? 

I am going to the doctor with her Thursday because she has high blood pressure again. She is unhappy and miserable much of the time. I am hoping that we can get some answers as to why she can’t breathe. I only hope and pray that the answers we get won’t be worse for her than what we already know. 

Oh God, I am finding myself wanting relief from all this stress and trials. You are enough, You are all I need. Help me to cling to You and to lean on You. Help me to be a good daughter and wife and mother and counselor. God, You have a purpose and plan in all of this. Help me to be accepting and welcoming of this new trial and suffering. Help me to bring You glory!
This was the classic dilemma I faced throughout this whole period of time Mom was ill. I was one person, wearing many hats. I felt as though I was never in one place long enough to make any difference, that what I did in any one place was not enough, someone always needed more of my time, energy and attention.
I said hundreds of thousands of times over the past three years that I don’t know how anyone could do this without the Lord.
Fiddling with Mom’s cell phone became a common place event. She was forever messing up the settings and the volume. Because she could not see to dial it I learned she qualified for a special program that enabled her to operate the phone by voice command. This too had its downside because no matter how we tried there was still some button that had to be pushed.
There were some humorous times with that cell phone…Mom would think she was calling her sister Dorothy who lived half a mile away, and speak her name into the auto dialer and the phone would hear “Stephen” and his phone would go off while he was in class in Chicago.  She would say “Stephen” and Abby’s phone would ring! It made for many laughable Moments which we all surely needed back then! It also made for many frustrating ones when I wanted to drive over the phone with my car.
By March, 2007 I was able to convince Mom and her doctor that she needed some additional testing done because of her ongoing breathing issues.