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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Monday, October 1, 2007

facing uncertainty together

Greetings Nkenge,

Sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, I was struck by the numbers of women who now care for their parents. We all share, in a public way, the stages of our parent’s life that used to be carried on within the privacy of our respective extended families. And at the same time, the repetitive tasks
of our collective experiences (feeding, bathing, comforting, being present in the moment) creates an extended family in spirit as well as deeds.

As each person’s story emerges, you are reminded of the little blessings within your own. It occurred to me reading your message, that we both are blessed with mothers who are past 80 years old and, even with the all the difficulties they face, there are many families facing worse.

I am in a place where I know longer think of my Mom in terms of illness. For me, she still remains full in her being and that she continues to make decisions, express her will and that life continues in a different way. Your Mom, no doubt will quit smoking and in fact, making that change supports the effects of the strokes. My goal with my Mom, each day we have something to look forward to and in time, we will be home and/or together for the holidays. I tell Ella, there is time get well.

I believe the same for your Mom.



Thursday, September 13, 2007

Greetings Everyone,

As many of you know my Mom has struggled to stabilize her health for several years. This summer proved to be a tremendous challenge for her as she suffered two bouts of pneumonia.
She returned to the hospital three weeks ago in congestive heart failure cause by additional fluid around her heart and in her lungs.

On Tuesday, September 11, Ella underwent surgery to remove the fluid from her lungs and from around her heart. I am pleased to report, that at 86 years old, she came through with flying colors. Showing tremendous spirit and fortitude she endured an 11 hour wait for surgery, the actual operation and then left post-op in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

I spent the day with her yesterday, though groggy, she is in good spirits with minimal pain. Ella is aware of everything around her. Last night at dinner, she drank her soup and finished the orange Jell-O with very little help from me. She is able to communicate with her medical team who continue to give her excellent care. If the recovery stays on track, she should be home by the weekend or at the latest early next week. Once home she will require nursing care for the next three weeks, and daily assistance for the rest of her life.

Ella asked me to send this note to everyone thanking all of you for your prayers, light, love and positive energy. If you would like to send Ella a card or flowers, please use the address below:

Ella R. Howard
1362 Kenyon Street NW
Washington, DC 20010

With love and hugs,
Timah and Ella

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Mom returned to the hospital this week with congestive heart failure as a result of the pneumonia she continues to battle. While her condition is stable and she is expected to come home, her health continues a slow decline that is appropriate for her age and medical condition. It is still not clear what continues to cause the build up of fluid in her lungs and between her lungs and heart. While the not knowing the cause is frustrating, I spend my time concentrating on what is known -- she is lucid, funny, still headstrong, interested in the world (although death is close now than it was a month ago), and still looking forward to future. As always she continues to be a realist without any sense of bitterness or fatalism.

For Ella, hope is a verb.

I divide my time between work and the hospital. As of this writing, my Mom will remain in the hospital for the remainder of this week and possibly through the weekend. I did photograph her this time because I thought these maybe the last photos I take of her. I will post them later in the week after she has had a chance to see them first.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

My comrade and fellow teacher, Frank Rosario sold me his Nikon D100. At the time I planned to spend every weekend out and about taking picutres. However, the situation with my Mom's health is debilitating emotionally and in very odd ways, the stress of caring for her manifests itself in weird little phobias like suddenly not wanting to take pictures in public. I stopped beating myself up about and found ways to keep working and take care of her in the process.
Frank asked me why I didn't photograph my Mom. She doesn't want to be photographed right now because one medications she took to regulate her heart, changed her skin tone and produces hair all over her body. I think this is temporary and when we go on vacation to North Carolina in November, her interest in being photograph will be better.

Monday, August 13, 2007

It was a difficult weekend. My Mom returned home to face new realities. She will need full time nursing care for the rest of her life. This means significant changes in my life and work over the next few months as this new reality takes shape. The alternative is placing her in a nursing home for the rest of her life. She is clear nursing homes are not what she wants.

So we struggle to make it work.