In Loving Memory of Jean McFee Raichle

mom 4.20
For Mom, being of service was a cardinal virtue. She was always seeking ways to help and improve the lives of others.

Inspired by her art, we are mounting a major art exhibition that will feature paintings by Mom and many others who are living with Alzheimer’s. The art will surprise, delight and inspire—replacing fear and stigma with hope and understanding, opening our hearts and minds to a new way of thinking about Alzheimer’s and helping us all to become better stewards of our aging population.

At a time when Alzheimer’s is the most feared disease in America and those with the disease all too often written off as no longer of value, the art tells a different story—those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are Still Here: living with dignity, creativity and joy.

If Mom knew how much people value her art, she would be so pleased—mystifled perhaps but definitely pleased.

If you wish to make a donation in remembrance of Mom, please click on the link below.

Your gift is tax-deductible; Mom would be pleased at that as well.

Thank you so much.

Click & Pledge Securely

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And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest

motorcycleMy wonderful mother Jean passed away Sunday night.

Last Wednesday, her blood sugar levels rose to alarming heights. We rushed her to the emergency room and anticipated that she would soon return to her perky self. But there was a complication – extreme pain in her abdomen pointed to serious problems with her colon. The doctors ruled out surgery – she would likely not have survived nor would it have restored her to any quality of life. In keeping with her wishes on the subject, my siblings and I made the decision to withdraw treatment – keeping her hydrated and pain free. After four days – a fighter to the last – she slipped away Sunday night.

She was a force of nature, adored by her husband of 66 years, by her five children (none of us able to remember ever being mad at her,) by her sister Louise and by a host of grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews. As her dementia gained in strength, she was distilled to her essence – happy, positive, generous, loving and kind.

She made the world a better place.

But the stories will continue as will the art. Mom’s comrades in supported living paint every week and I love them all…plus they expect me to show up to give them neck massages.

Here’s a story about Mom.

On Monday, I was sitting with Ruby and Evelyn (104), her delightful neighbors, listening to them reminisce about Mom.

Ruby held up a small artificial flower and said, “I’ll think of Jean every time I see this. You want to know why?”

Me – “Why?”

Ruby – “Because she tried to eat it!”

Here is the model from last week and their interpretations. Enjoy.

2015.4.7 model2015.4.7 Dorothy

2015.4.7 Gloria

2015.4.7 Phyllis

2015.4.7 Sue

2015.4.7Jane

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A Community of Care

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After nearly 10 years in Supported Living, Mom was slipping further and further away—less verbal, less engaged, less active and increasingly a source of disruption to her neighbors. In consultation with the staff, we made the decision to move Mom into Memory Care.

One could see this as unbearably sad—the irrevocable final stop, a recognition that her decline was accelerating and the end—if not near—was certainly closer.

But as in so many things, Mom defied expectations, confounding our fears and enabling us to see life from a different perspective.

The night of the move she was understandably bewildered and I feared the worst. But when I arrived the next morning, I found her to be more verbal and more engaged than she had been for months. She talked about her parents and sister Louise, about her grandmother, about visiting the beach, where she and Dad built a house and lived for many happy years.

She made jokes. “You know, in two years I will be an old lady.” (She just turned 96.) Then she looked at me and grinned, “And soon you will be an old lady too.”

She wondered about the future. “I want to see what it will be like in two years.”

We sang and as the sun streamed in though her big picture window, she declared, for the first time in a very long time, “Everything is just delightful.”

I don’t pretend to know how to account for this. Maybe it was the view in her new room or the sunlight but I am convinced that part of the answer lies in the extraordinary community of care that exists in both Supported Living and Memory care.
Every single member of the staff—nurses, social workers, activity directors, environmental and dietary staff—is dedicated to the enrichment and support of the precious people in their care. And in Memory Care that level of care is even greater.

So thanks to these wonderful people and Mom’s indomitable spirt, the move to memory care is not a cause for sadness—it’s another fascinating stage in the remarkable journey of life.

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Happy Easter

Happy Easter Everyone,

Mom is slowing down considerably these days and didn’t paint last week but all her neighbors did. The model – flowers, leaves and baby chicks – inspired all sorts of wonderful paintings.

Enjoy

2015.3.31 model 2

2015.3.31 painting 2

2015.3.31 painting 3

2015.3.31 painting 4

2015.3.31 painting 5

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With a little help

2015.3.24 painting MomMom hasn’t expressed much interest in painting of late. She’s ever so slowly slipping away and painting doesn’t engage her as it used to. But that changes when my sister Jeanne is able to visit Seattle.

A talented artist, Jeanne joined the art class. She sat next to Mom and provided support, gentle instruction and I think inspiration. For the first time in very long time, Mom was totally engaged.
2015.3.24 Jeanne

2015.3.24 model

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