Suzanne Bianchi's Journal
We love you Mom.
Written Nov 2, 2013 3:28am by Jennifer Browning
My mom is going on hospice tomorrow morning. She had a really bad night last night. The pain pump is often not doing enough to keep her out of pain, especially in the evenings. We stopped the TPN. Her body has not been able to take in fluids or nutrients on its own for weeks which is its way of starting to shut down. On hospice, the doctor said she would likely only be around for a couple more days since she won’t be receiving fluids. The goal is that she be comfortable and free of pain so it is not clear how lucid she will be. The most important is that she be in peace at home.
My mom skyped with her family in Iowa, the Midwest. She loved talking to them because she loves them. They always make her laugh. She really wishes that she could just go on seeing them. She really wishes she didn’t have cancer. There are so many things she would still like to do and live to see.
At the same time, she was able to talk, and equally importantly, see all of her siblings and her mom today.
She would love to be going back to Italy and seeing all of our relatives there. She was able to talk to Gianni and Roberto today. She would have loved to talk to everyone else in Arezzo. All the same, it was very special. She had her son Josh translating what she said in Italian to Roberto. It has come full circle. Assunta, her Italian nonna, used to speak to her first, beautiful granddaughter in Italian. Now, her son converses in Italian with her grandparents’ relatives in Tuscany. Grandma, Pesho was smiling.
This would not be a proper entry though without talk of food. My mom told me where I could find all of the recipes for the dishes and desserts she made our family over the years. She said if I have questions to call grandma, especially for anything Thanksgiving related.
Aunt Di took care of us today. She went to the store. She cooked a delicious dinner- risotto and pork chops stuffed with spinach and raisins. The Heirloom tomato from Wednesday’s farmer’s market was divine. I’ll have to look out for that color again.
My mom was really happy to see my dad’s sister Ann. Luckily she arrived after the awful shooting at LAX. Josh managed to pick her up amidst all of the evacuation craziness. James took her to Tacos Por Favor for a quick lunch- yup,, the royal treatment. Ann jumped into helping take care of us by cleaning up after dinner and making friends with Diane by eating and clearly enjoying some Halloween rice krispy treats.
How do you accept that your mom goes on hospice? I have often wondered this. All I want is more time with my mom, another day, another hour, another minute. I just want to be able to talk to her and hold her hand. I know everyone in our family must feel the same way. But at the same time, I don’t want her to be in pain. I don’t want her to suffer. I guess someone could have told me this, maybe someone did: You accept because you love your mom.
My mom said that she was ready. As much as she wants to continue to be here with us.
Next to you right now mom is where we want to be.
Jen, James, Josh, Mark, and Suzanne
And because we are from Arezzo one hundred years ago and because this makes us practically related to Roberto Benigni and because my mom loved the entry on my birthday: Beautiful that way
Tears, a tidal-wave of tears
Light that slowly disappears
Wait, before you close the curtain
There's still another game to play
And life is beautiful that way
Here, in his eyes forever more
I will always be as close
as you remember from before.
Written Nov 1, 2013 1:15am by Jennifer Browning
My mom had a bad night last night. She is very sick and was in a lot of pain this morning. Her problems with nausea are unlikely to subside much although we would love for the antacids to have an effect. She will likely go on hospice sometime soon. When she does go on hospice, things will go very quickly, only a couple days since she will no longer be getting fluids. It all reminds us how very dearly we love our mom, sister, and wife.
Needless to say, it was an emotionally intense day. It was a very tiring day especially for my mom and dad who did not get to sleep through the night. Let's hope for a more peaceful night this time around.
Still, I would say it was a good day. Maybe it seems like I am always trying to be rosy in my entries. I am sure there is a bit of that; it’s partly how I cope. But I sincerely mean that it was a good day. An exhausting day but a good one.
My Aunt Di and my dad saw my mom through her pain in the morning. I then read The Casual Vacancy to her. My dad also has a book from the Harry Bosch series that he and my mom read together. After reading, James sat with mom, holding her hand. She was able to doze off and finally get some needed rest. When she woke up, we talked as a family in the afternoon.
It was a gorgeous day today. I jogged to the cliffs overlooking the beach. It was one of those clear days where you could see all the varied colors of the coastline out to a Point Dune. On these days, I always feel like the coast is giving me a big hug. The shimmering water of midday sun jog must have been my kiss.
In the afternoon, my mom talked with her brother Dave and Aunt Joyce by Skype. She loved it.
Then, James pushed my mom along in her wheel chair for a walk around the block. Nothing beats feeling the warm sun on your face and taking a gulp of fresh Californian air. We are still a bit far from the beach, but my mom loved looking at the flowers. We stopped at the entrance of the Santa Monica Seafood parking lot to pull up her shawls- where the sidewalk overlaps with the driveway. My dad didn’t want the shawls to drag on the ground, get ruined and worst, trip up the wheel chair. I was walking ahead, being pesky taking a gazillion photographs. However, this vantage point did give me a clear view of my mom’s concerned expression. As cars were trying to turn into the lot, she seemed to be thinking, “I know how I am going to go, but this ain’t it!” James backed up the wheel chair; the shawls were pulled up; the car turned in; we moved forward and around the corner.
After her adventure in the great outdoors, my mom relaxed watching an episode of Mad Men. She then was ready for a rest before her bedtime TPN ritual. We ate dinner while she rested. Aunt Di made a delicious chicken in a balsamic sauce with thyme and caramelized red onions. We also ate some chocolates out of the Trick-or-Treat bags Aunt Di put on our pillows. You never got too big for this. We finished the meal with the classic Halloween dessert (according to Aunt Di): peanut butter Rice Krispy treats with chocolate frosting. They remind me of visits to Iowa but I am open to having them also remind me of Halloween. You can always count on my grandma for low calorie meals and now her daughter Di. Tasty in the lick your fingers type of way!
After dinner, we read mom the newest Guestbook entries. We looked through the most recent pictures. James got out a box of pictures from when we were little kids and showed them to mom. Guaranteed to get a smile- we were cute! My dad got the TPN ready.
What is love? It’s my dad staring at the TPN for 20 minutes straight every night after he has hooked my mom up just to make sure there are no air bubbles.
We did not get any trick-or-treaters today. We remember how Jocelyn Street used to be THE place to be on Halloween. So many kids stopped by, and my brothers and I returned the favor, going down one side of the block and then up the other. As we all got older, the stream of trick-or-treaters slowed. These things go in waves so maybe tonight, it was as busy again as ever. Jocelyn Street and the friends my mom has from that period mean so very much to her. It was a great place to grow up. It was a great place to be a mom and raise your kids. It's still the biggest part of all our lives.
Jen, James, Josh, Mark, and Suzanne
Written Oct 31, 2013 1:36am by Jennifer Browning
As you must have gathered, my mother is pretty sick these days. She is hanging in there as best she can, uncomplainingly in the face of her nausea and pain. She is still finding nice moments throughout the day. We finished the day with another episode of Mad Men.
For dinner, we have to thank Lynne Casper again. We had frozen half of the enchiladas she had brought a while ago. When we needed a quick dinner tonight, there they were- as delicious as I remembered. Lynne, we want the recipe!
I remember freshman year when I was sharing a triple dorm room with Danielle and Shea’l. My mom came at the end of the year to move me out. Right after meeting my mom, I remember Danielle laughing and blurting out , “Jen’s just like her!” At age 18, this is not always what you want to hear. It also is not entirely accurate. I am not “just” like her. For instance, I’m not nearly as diplomatic, as organized, as calm, as disciplined, as thin-haired, and as much of a morning person. To top it off, I got a C in handwriting in the 2nd grade which if you have ever seen my mother’s calligraphy script, you know is a big contrast. It was my only C ever- ok in that way I am like her. I don’t think my mom wants me to be just like her; that would be pretty boring. I know she must like some of my differences, some of the time. But I am also not 18 anymore. So I hope one day people will say, Jen is a lot like her mom.
My mom got to Skype today with her mother, her brother Mike, and her sister Mary in Fort Dodge. The Bianchi humor- they made us all laugh. My mom said it was “just wonderful.”
Jen, James, Josh, Mark, and Suzanne