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Mama Mia

 

My mother-in-law, Mia, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's a few years ago. She was around 55 at the time of discovery. This past month she declined very rapidly, so we travelled 2,000 miles from the west coast to the North Shore of Chicago to see her & wish her a speedy passing... At this point, she was not on life support & had been unable to swallow for some time. Basically starving to death; a very painful & agonizing way to go.

 

A quick backstory: Mia was of Italian descent & came from poverty. She became pregnant with my significant other when she was just 15, dropped out of high school & worked to support her baby - her home life & upbringing were difficult to say the least. When Mia was in her early 20's, she met a handsome, older Italian man; a guest at the hotel bar she was working at, at the time. 17 years her senior, they eventually married and had two sons together; her husband, I'll call him Tony, adopted my beau & raised him as his own. Tony was a wealthy businessman in Chicago & spoiled the hell out of Mia & the boys.

 

Tony & Mia eventually divorced. The beautiful, stately, Victorian home on the north shore Tony worked hard to get for his family sold. Despite their marriage dissolving, the two remained close friends. He stood by her until the very end.

 

In the early years of our relationship, Mia & I were very close. My other half, her oldest son, was a serial monogamist, never married, & in his late 30's when we met. Mia & I talked on the phone often, texted, & planned girls-only getaways that would never materialize. She never liked any of his girlfriends until she met me - she said I was the daughter she never had - a mother of 3 boys and called me "baby girl".   (That last part is worth consideration in a bit.)

 

Now, here is where I may get some scoffs & judgment, that's fine - it has little to do with the rest of the story but I feel it's relevant. A few months ago, I downloaded the Ghost Radar app with very few expectations.  I've used it a few times to see what would materialize & nothing of note has happened, but one evening I was outside on the patio with the app running.  It said, "east".  So, out of curiosity, I walked east on our property which brought me down to the garden.  Silence.  Came back up to the patio and it said, "August".  Then soon after, "prepare".  At the time, "east" didn't resonate with me, but I found "prepare" & "August" troubling, like something bad was going to happen... And it did. 

 

Mia's battle with Alzheimer's was a true battle. My other half & I received news on August 15th that her time was limited. Flights were booked, tears were shed, & we prepared for the worst...sadly, you never can truly prepare.  August; prepare.  Illinois is east of Oregon, where we live.    

A few days before we left for Chicago, her youngest son came to Oregon to see us. He'd gone to visit Mia in the nursing home earlier this spring before she was nonverbal and recorded some conversations. Some made sense, most didn't. One that haunted me was Mia talking about seeing a baby girl who had died, due to lack of oxygen. "Yes, just a baby, baby girl, baby girl..." Part of me believes she meant that me, her "baby girl" had "died" in that we hadn't spoken in so long. Combined with the confusion of the disease... Her oldest son had breathing problems as a young boy.

 

When we arrived at hospice the following week, the otherwise fit, vibrant woman we loved had wasted away to an 80lb sack of skin & bones, incoherent, unable to communicate. That Tuesday she seemed to be trying to speak, but just uttered noises. She made eye contact & seemed responsive to music we played for her. The following day she'd declined even more, eyes barely open, mouth unable to close, & very close to death. It was truly the most unbearable thing I've witnessed in my lifetime. Towards the evening on Tuesday, her youngest son, 27, came to see her one last time. He spent the night by her side.

 

The next morning on Wednesday, we'd slept in & planned to visit Mia at hospice in the afternoon, but we didn't make it in time. My father in law received a call at 2:45 saying her breathing had become very shallow & her vitals were poor. We gathered our things, hopped in the car. A 25-minute drive away, she passed at 3:15, barely missing her. Tony got the call when we were just a few blocks away.

 

We all spent some time with Mia's body, I gathered her things, the boys hugged their mom & kissed her forehead. We had made arrangements with a funeral home earlier in the week, so Tony called to confirm the time of service.

 

After her death, I was given the task of gathering photos for collages at the service. I was handed several boxes of old family photos - hundreds to each box. It was not easy, but such a pleasure to find old treasures like Mia pregnant with the boys, baby pictures, family vacations. Happier times. I was also asked, as the now-only female in the immediate family, to choose her clothes for the viewing. To me, it's a deeply personal thing to go though family photos, much less go through someone's clothes & choose a final dress for a funeral (I chose a brazen red designer dress, for the record).

 

Summers in Chicago are hot & very humid. Tony's not crazy about using the central air, so it was a constant struggle for me to keep the house cool - I'd turn it down to 68, an hour later he'd move it back to 80. We slept with the windows open, a big box fan blowing on us & the ceiling fan on. The ceiling fan turned on by one of those round dial switches on the wall; the kind that click when turned and you push it inward to flick on the light. The box fan was just that - one of those with the dial on top, not "difficult" to turn, but difficult for it to slip into the off position... Impossible if you ask me. The doors upstairs where the bedrooms always stick & creak - you can't open any of them without force, and it makes a noise the whole house could hear. Anytime I'd get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, the door would unstick so loudly the senior & hard-of-hearing dog downstairs would bark.

 

We started waking up with the box fan off, switch in the off position. We had it situated in the window, about 15 feet from the door, next to the bed. The ceiling fan would be off in the morning. I woke up in the middle of the night one night to the door rattling like a very gentle earthquake was occurring. I got up to shut the door & it was snug in its sticky jamb. There was absolutely no wind, & sadly the fans weren't powerful enough to make that door budge.

One night while we were in bed, watching tv, the ceiling fan shut itself off. The switch was physically off. I got up like WTF? Turned the switch back on & we resumed our show. My other half seemed unfazed. He pretty much lives in denial whenever something strange happens, but I have to admit, this stuff started freaking me out a bit.

 

Every night I'd plug in the tablet to charge. In the morning, the plug would be loose from the outlet like someone had unplugged it. I thought the socket might be loose, but upon plugging it in again the first time it happened, it was very tight & not easily knocked out. I have a history with electrical issues, but none quite like this.

 

One afternoon my guy & I were in the house alone. It had gotten cloudy & the sky was dark, so we turned on some lights downstairs in the living room while tidying up. One lamp by the tv, I turned on. Not 5 minutes later, it flickered out & I didn't think much of it. A few hours after the youngest & his dad returned to the house, we walked into the living room & that lamp was on. My father in law said, "Ah, you changed that bulb? It's been out for a long time & I haven't gotten around to replacing it." I'm not reading too much into this, it could easily be bad wiring or a worn-out switch. Still worth noting given the other occurrences though.

 

On Saturday night, the night before Mia's service, the youngest bro, my beaux, & I were putting together a playlist for the visitation. The was visitation scheduled for 4 hours so it was a lot of time to fill... It took a while to pull her favorite songs & find appropriate music, so we were up late. I am a light sleeper and my partner & I have been sleeping in separate bedrooms for a while due to his snoring & nocturnal habits. On this trip, I made sure to get a pack of ear plugs - the obnoxious, bright fluorescent orange ones - so I could sleep. After finishing the playlist, I got ready for bed. One ear plug was missing.

 

I threw a fit & tore the bedroom apart. The floors are hardwood, so it was easy to scan the floor with my phone's flashlight with the help of overhead lights. Nothing. I looked & looked, & finally sighed, agreeing to watch something else before sleep. After the show I decided to look again. There right under the bed, plain as day in obnoxious bright orange was my missing ear plug under the bed on the floor... Where we had both looked about 10 times.

 

A few other strange things happened but I feel they are too personal & give away too much information to share anonymously. I can't help but think going through Mia's things, pulling out old photos, and being with her during the final days made her want to pop in for a visit once she left her earthly body.  Unfortunately, she had been "dead" to me for the last couple of years... As she succumbed to the disease, she became a very spiteful, mean person, rendering her intolerable to speak with or be around... She'd have me in tears within minutes, and said some really terrible things to her boys that left deep emotional scars.  We forgave her before she passed, but I think we all have a little lingering guilt for not being able to separate the disease from the person. Looking through photos reminded me of the wonderful person she once was - beautiful, funny, playful. The weird happenings may be debunk-able, but I choose to believe that Mia was showing us her playful presence once again, free from the prison of Alzheimer's.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by yourghoststories.com. Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, Cups, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

lady-glow (11 stories) (2399 posts)
+4
5 days ago (2019-08-19)
Cups, don't worry about the arrows, their importance -if any- dwindles compared to what one can learn from the input of many posters.

Melda, it seems that even KarmaTroll has gone on holidays... I haven't seen any of my karma points disappeared in ages.

You are a highly respected and loved poster... Your hater is only trying to spoil what they wish they could have.
valkricry (45 stories) (3032 posts) mod
+2
6 days ago (2019-08-18)
Cups, I really and truly believe that Mia did hang on to see her children one more time. My own Mother did the same. A mother's love can be quite obstinate, I guess. 😊
We were fortunate that she didn't suffer from Alzheimer's, however my ex's mother did. She too became very mean, and bitter. She also took to being physically violent. It was very heartbreaking.
I think the activity you experienced, was Mia trying to let you know that she's ok now.
Cups (7 stories) (154 posts)
 
6 days ago (2019-08-18)
Lady-glow, I still cannot upvote you! Argh! Green arrows to you forever. 😁
Cups (7 stories) (154 posts)
+2
6 days ago (2019-08-18)
It got a bit catty. Thanks, ladies, for being cool as always. I needed the break also because some certain people who are not super-believable are also kind of... Annoying. Hope you're well also, Lucia! Thank you for the kind words. Melda, Lady, xo. ❤
Melda (9 stories) (1117 posts)
+5
1 week ago (2019-08-14)
Cups - Have only just seen your comment. As Lady Glow says, I have also been absent for quite a while. I became a little disenchanted with this site but have decided not to allow my personal hater, who down votes just about every comment I make, to get the better of me.

Good to chat again.
LuciaJacinta (7 stories) (228 posts)
+2
2 weeks ago (2019-08-07)
Since this got bumped up, I had the chance to reread it. This is just a really nice story of Mia. I remembered reading it right away.

I agree I miss *seeing* some names around here. Cups, I hope you're doing well. ❤

I didn't see some of these comments until now. R.C., I hope your Facebook friend is doing ok. I do think it's harder on the children, spouses and family members then it is on the patient.
lady-glow (11 stories) (2399 posts)
+3
3 weeks ago (2019-08-06)
Cups.

Hello, it's so nice to "see" you around!

Since the beginning of this year or so, several of the regular posters have been silent, including Melda. I hope to see them soon.

I'm glad you're back. ❤
Cups (7 stories) (154 posts)
+1
3 weeks ago (2019-08-05)
Hi Melda!
I am sorry, I needed a break. Life changes & job drama, & all sorts of stuff. I haven't logged in for months. I'm excited to catch up with you all, hope there is some fun stuff involving you & LadyGlow for me! 😉
Melda (9 stories) (1117 posts)
 
8 months ago (2018-12-13)
Cups - Why have you disappeared? I hope you read this. Please come back!
RCRuskin (8 stories) (550 posts)
+2
11 months ago (2018-09-20)
[at] Lucia, Just checked facebook and found this post from a friend of mine. Was hoping you could check and confirm this for me.

The Neurologist said that dementia / Alzheimer's should be called "failure of the brain," because the other names are nebulous and do not show the severity of the disease to most people. As the patient's brain slowly dies, you know they've changed physically, and the caregivers are often in shock! Patients will end up bedridden, unable to move, and unable to eat or drink. But it is the different phases beforehand that are just as painful. The day they suddenly forget how to dress themselves, and become confused or combative when you try to fix the shirt, or pants, they've put on backwards. When they repeatedly ask where their life-long mate is while looking straight at her. When they are confused, angry, or frightened, because they are still partially aware of who they were, yet are no longer...

There will be people who will scroll by this message because dementia / Alzheimer's has not touched them. They don't know what it is to fight or to have a loved who leads a battle against dementia / Alzheimer's.
Cuddlebear (4 stories) (170 posts)
+3
11 months ago (2018-09-19)
Cups ~ what a heart rending story. My heart goes out to your and your family.

Anyone who has suffered the loss of a love one to that dreadful illness knows your pain.

As to debunking your experience, as a skeptic I don't come on here to dissuade people of their beliefs. I come here to learn, to see if I'm wrong, in fact I hope I am.

If you believe that your mother-in-law returned to help you with her loss, then no one should nay that. I think we all believe whatever gets us through the night and keeps the monsters at bay.

My deepest and most sincere condolences...
Aporetic (5 stories) (125 posts)
+2
11 months ago (2018-09-16)
A post for LuciaJacinta:

Greetings, Lucia

Thank you so much for the informative post on Altzheimer patients, and a bigger THANK YOU on behalf of everyone whose lives you've touched and helped through the process of losing a loved one. You are a treasure.

Keep up the good work. If at times you feel you receive no appreciation in this life - remember the afterlife - it's all waiting there for you; and everyone who didn't get a chance or were unable to say goodbye and thank you.

Go well.

With warm regards
Apo
CuriousDee (8 stories) (630 posts)
+1
11 months ago (2018-09-15)
LuciaJacinta,

You are truly an angel, working with hospice patients. Throughout the years, I've visited and said goodbye to several family members that were in hospice. The nurses, aides, receptionists... The whole staff, were always so kind, understanding and patient.

A big thank you for what you do ❤ ❤ ❤
Dee
LuciaJacinta (7 stories) (228 posts)
+4
11 months ago (2018-09-14)
Hello, Cups. Lovely Story.

I work with Hospice patients and many have Alzheimer's. I love my clients and grow close to them. One thing that may bring you some comfort, although (I don't know your particular set of circumstances)...When the body begins to shut down and enter the end stages with Alzheimers, it does not need food in the same way that we need food. In fact, it stops being able to process digestion. It's very difficult to understand for we perceive our loved ones to be starving. But if we were to force feed such patients it causes more pain and discomfort than if we were to just let the body end. As long as they are taking in a few drops of water, that's all they really need once the body begins it's death process. I'm saying this to give your mind some comfort that her body probably had all it really needed for her journey.

I also understand about the change of personality. I wouldn't let anything said in the last few years bother you.

For your peace of mind, I like the light a candle for her idea. Wish her well, pray if you believe in that and guide her into the light. She may be saying her goodbyes because she couldn't speak in her last days.
CuriousDee (8 stories) (630 posts)
+1
11 months ago (2018-09-14)
Hi Cups,

First, my sincere condolences on your loss. Mia sounds like she was a 'tough cookie'. Sort of random but... Have you ever noticed that the strong individuals in our lives go through the most difficult challenges? What we go through in life shapes who we are. We can either give up or keep pushing on, learning from the bad to transform it into good. The way you described Mia made me think about the strong people in my life. 😊

Alzheimer's is a terrible disease. My (step) grandfather suffered from this too. I remember the strange 'off' comments at first and then the horrible decline. I'll never forget a birthday party my family had for his 80th, when my grandmother still cared for him at home. He literally had no clue who we were, which was obviously heartbreaking, and his comments made zero sense. My grandmother was amazing; caring for him, standing strong, never complaining. Another tough cookie. 😉

Any who, I had a thought in regards to some of the electronic interference... Could some of it be caused by you? (discussed in your previous account)? I remembered the reference to Sliders and the effect emotions and/or energy have on electrical equipment. Perhaps your grief, feelings of guilt, etc manifested around your home? Just a thought.

Thanks for sharing a lovely read ❤
Dee
Aporetic (5 stories) (125 posts)
+2
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
I don't understand what's happening - I'm posting comments and when I check back they're not there. Here I go again ~crossing eyes, legs, and eyes- so please excuse the typos lol

Dear Cups

My condolences on the loss of such a spirited lady. I hope you and the family find peace in your hearts and comfort from each other during your time of mourning. I'm so happy that as part of the YGS community I get to share in so many personal experiences that still teaches an oldish dog new tricks, and that I'm able to send positive thoughts your way.

Stay strong, celebrate her life, and remember her fondly. I can't begin to imagine how hard it was for her family to see her so changed.

She must have been a colourful character - the red designer dress? Ooh la la.

All the best, with warm regards.
Apo

PS I think my network is acting up as I'm battling to post this comment.
Melda (9 stories) (1117 posts)
+2
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
RC - Thanks for that. I have just listened to the song and it truly is beautiful ❤

Regards, Melda
RCRuskin (8 stories) (550 posts)
+2
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
Possibly "Into the West" from The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King? While working on the movie, P. Jackson, F. Walsh, H. Shore, et al, had intended to meet with a 17 year old boy who desired to be a filmmaker, and they would work on a short movie together. Then the boy died, not unexpectedly, but before they could collaborate.

They wrote the entire piece, lyrics and music, in about an hour.
Melda (9 stories) (1117 posts)
+2
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
RC - Yes, the lyrics in that song by Art Garfunkel are very apt. I also remember the morning of my mother's passing leaving the hospital and wondering how the sky could be so blue and all the birds could be chirping, people going about their everyday routines, when my foundations had just been knocked out from under me. I wonder whether anybody has written a song venting that indescribable emotion?

Regards, Melda
RCRuskin (8 stories) (550 posts)
+3
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
Melda, reading your comment, "Even when you think you are prepared for somebody's death, it's still always a shock when it actually happens," reminded me of a song by Art Garfunkel:

Bright Eyes, burning like fire
Bright Eyes, how can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale?
RCRuskin (8 stories) (550 posts)
+1
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
Alzheimer's is probably the worst possible disease there is. It robs us of our loved ones before they depart, or our memories if we're the ones suffering from it. When your Mother-in-Law said those hurtful things, she might not have been saying them in her mind. The way the disease destroys the connections between brain cells, "I love you so much" might end up coming out as... Well, something else.

Please accept my sympathies for losing someone so close to you twice. May her Memory be eternal.
Melda (9 stories) (1117 posts)
+3
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
Cups - My sincere condolences on the passing of Mia. Even when you think you are prepared for somebody's death, it's still always a shock when it actually happens.

I think it's human nature to try to blot out the unpleasant moments and focus on the good positive ones. I seldom think of my mother when she was suffering from cancer - she's in my mind as the healthy, caring, loving soul she was, with a sense of humour second to none. She didn't undergo a personality change as such but it was very hard on the family.

Mia will always be with you in spirit. I believe she will hear you when you talk to her. I also believe that she was very happy and proud that you played such a large part in her funeral proceedings.

It's a good thing that you put aside the differences you had in the past and remember the positive, close relationship you had for years before that.

Regards, Melda
Sleeping-with-steve (7 stories) (365 posts)
+1
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
Hello Cups,

Thanks to this community and all the sincere comments along with family support, I'm doing okay.

It really does help to talk about things that are upsetting.

I'm glad I found YGS.

😘 ❤ 😘
Cups (7 stories) (154 posts)
+2
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
Good idea about the candle... I kept waiting to see her or experience something scary, to be honest. The fact that it didn't tells me that she's at peace. And like I said, the weird stuff that happened could be debunked if I looked hard enough.

Thanks for the kind words & thoughts, they are so appreciated. Hope you're holding up as well.
Sleeping-with-steve (7 stories) (365 posts)
+2
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
I'm glad Cups,

It's a very sad time for you and your family.

Remember all the good things. Enjoy the happy memories of Mia.

Light a candle for her and let her know her spirit is always welcome.

Kind thoughts.

😘 ❤ 😘
Cups (7 stories) (154 posts)
+2
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
Argh! Again, we're typing at the same time! I fully agree. The disease can cause a lot of personality changes, such as anger - most commonly, not being able to remember where one put their possessions so they accuse someone of stealing them. Lashing out because internally they're frustrated with their own state of mind.

I did have a comforting dream the other night where she was again vibrant & her old self. Maybe it was my own brain, or maybe it was her. You never know, but the important things is that I found it comforting. ❤
Sleeping-with-steve (7 stories) (365 posts)
+1
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
Hi Cups,

No doubt she felt loved. May her soul rest in peace.

😘 ❤ 😘
Cups (7 stories) (154 posts)
+3
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
SWS, I should add that she was very strong! She worked her way up from poverty to the poshest area of Chicago & gave her boys the best education. I had to laugh a bit while we were visiting her - I said the quote, "You can never be too rich or too thin", and that she may be taking it too seriously. I know she would have loved that, having spent a fortune on napkin rings alone, and how hard she worked to be fit. She was hangin' on for something, and I think that it was to have all the men in her life by her side during her last days.
Sleeping-with-steve (7 stories) (365 posts)
 
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
Hello Cups

I don't know how the actual disease changes someone's personality, I'm not a doctor and haven't researched it.

The good thing is Mia is trying to send you messages now and let you know she's back to her usual self.

I think she's trying to ask for forgiveness before she leaves to the next realm.

You and your family already told her you forgived before she passed but maybe her spirit still feels like she needs to tell you all she's sorry.

I hope Mia's spirit finds peace and I hope you and your family get through this sad time knowing you did everything possible to comfort her.

Im sending you kind thoughts and positive energy.

😘 ❤ 😘
Cups (7 stories) (154 posts)
+2
11 months ago (2018-09-13)
BeautInside, SWS, Lady-glow,

Thank you all for your condolences! It's funny how the more time passes, even just a couple of weeks, that the bad parts kind of dissolve. I've found that to be true with the rest of the family also. After speaking with some of her friends at the service, they too noticed personality traits out of character for Mia over the last few years, before she was diagnosed. It is such a cruel disease and sadly, it does change a person for the worse. 😢

Thanks for reading & for the love!

PS, sorry for a few typos! I proofed & still managed to get some in there...

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