to your mother


Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Gathering

Well here we are People, the 11th crapiversary of Mom's stroke.

Traditionally I write about Mom's milestones, accomplishments, miracles, joy, struggles on this day.

But not this year. Today I will share about her gathering. Her celebration of life. And yes, no joke, it truly was a celebration.

NOTE: As I write this I grieve the pictures of which I didn't take. I just didn't have the chutzpah to run around capturing moments. I was truly trying to be part of the moments. At times I thought "I should get a picture of that" and anxiety would run over me with "Will I miss a picture moment? Will I be able to capture it all?" and I just surrendered. I got pictures here and there but not the breadth of what I wanted. And that's okay. Jim Parker said he would send me copies of the pictures he took, I'll share those later.


Mom's gathering was celebrated in the upper room of Paul's Country Market, owned by Paul and Mary Hess, beloved members of the generous German Baptist community that has so loving enveloped Mom and Dad over the last 11 years. We decided upon a small variety of finger foods to keep things simple. We decided upon no table clothes. We decided where the pictures, guest book, food and drinks, and video screen would be placed. And then the preparations began.

Paul prepared by scanning a gazillion pictures of Mom throughout her adult life to create a slide show to share. 

Dad prepared by airing out his "uniform" in which he wears for any occasion other than everyday life; grey slacks, soft blue shirt that makes you compelled to say "ooooooooooooo" and his everyday blue suspenders. 

I prepared by washing, drying and matching 50 pairs of Mom's crazy socks to be given out as favors at the gathering. I was uneasy about this decision until Paul and someone else mentioned giving away Mom's socks to the people who loved her. And you know what? Most people could be seen with a pair of socks hanging out of a pocket or purse, most people enjoyed looking through the bin to find just the right pair for them, most people had a smile on their face when discussing the socks. This is exactly why Mom wore crazy socks, to make people smile. And Mom purposefully wore mismatched socks long before it was trendy. I believe it was to make people stop and think "Is she really crazy or did she plan that?"

Mary Hess prepared by labeling the serving dishes of what food would be placed in them. This is something Mom did when she was having a gathering so when it was time to get all the food out at once, she didn't have to worry about in which bowl to put it. Even better, she could task me to do the job cause the labels would lead the way. Mary Hess's labels warmed my heart.

Doris, Elaine, and Jennifer prepared by creating crazy hats to wear. Mom had a vast collection of hats, so well known that Sheila, Mom's oncology nurse, once gave Mom a hat she had bought saying "I saw this and thought 'Peggy would love this'". (NOTE: I called Doris, Mom's beloved chauffeur and friend from the Manor, the evening Mom was dying and asked her to come. She came. She brought tea and water and a bible. She helped me. I am forever grateful for Doris.) Nothing says "A Celebration of Life" than a bunch of ladies wearing crazy hats. 

Paul Hess prepared by making sure everyone knew where to park. Nothing says "A Celebration of Life" like a spray painted cardboard sign, People.

Family came from Roanoke, Virginia,

and friends from Woodbine.

I've been to a German Baptist funeral. It was very reverent, beautiful, holy and peaceful. I was not sure how this community would react to our version of grieving, our rendition of respecting and celebrating the life of a loved one whom has died.

The room was filled with white bonnets and black suits. There was laughter, crazy socks, and cookies passed around and placed into purses. The German Baptist friends most near and dear to us wanted to meet extended family, wanted to grow in knowing who Mom and Dad where before the stroke, as most of them came into our lives after 9/30 11 years ago. It was a glorious time.

I was tickled that Mom's close friends from the Manor could come to celebrate Mom's life...and choose some beloved socks.

Paul and Mary Hess live right next door to their market.  They have a fun playground that the grand kids and cousins, who along with my in-laws rode 6 hours round trip to support us, enjoyed romping on.

We grew up just a quick walk through the woods from the Thomas family. I could start a whole new blog about the Thomas/Loyd adventures through the years. They drove 3 hours to celebrate Mom's life.

Rob Thomas, far right, flew from Colorado for the day. To celebrate Mom's life. That's some powerful love, right there.

My best friend from high school flew in from California. My friend of 35 years and his wife, and now my dearest friend, (and Mom and Dad for that matter) showed up to celebrate Mom's life.

Elaine, sweet Elaine. I'm gonna say Mom's best friend from the Manor. Elaine sat next to Mom at meals. She would cut her food, laugh with her, cry with her, watch TV with her, be silly with her. Mom would make this grumpy cat face to communicate, well, a variety of feelings. Elaine has been perfecting it, I'd say successfully. I could leave the Manor to travel home with a lighter heart knowing that Elaine was there with Mom. God bless Elaine.

Here's Elaine with Paula to the left, she used to sit on the other side of Mom at meals. Between them is Jennifer, truly one of God's angels on earth. Jennifer, a care provider at the Manor, loved Mom like she was her own mother. Jennifer is near and dear to my heart.  I could leave the Manor to travel home with a lighter heart knowing that Elaine was there with Mom. God bless Jennifer.

This is where I struggle without the pictures. I want to name each person that was there. I want to tell the story behind each relationship. I want to convey to the world how special Mom was to so many people. I was completely overwhelmed with the crowd that showed up that Saturday. As I expressed this to Don while standing under a tree out back, he put my overwhelmedness into perspective. "That room isn't just filled with people, it's filled with love," is what Don said to me. Completely changed my outlook. The day was crushing and glorious and filled with love and joy and crazy socks for all. Cause nothing says "A Celebration of Life" like 50 pairs of crazy socks.

On our ride home that evening, the rainbow appear once again, letting me know, all will be well.

And you know what? All WILL be well. cause people are out there, wearing their crazy socks and bringing some joy to themselves and the world.

All WILL be well. Cause I printed up a gazillion of these pictures of Mom in lieu of prayer cards that the funeral home would give out and a bunch of people took them. And I will never know where all those pictures may land, but I feel confident that people will laugh a little when they see it.

God bless you, Mom, for bring such joy and love to so many.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Mom's Obituary

This will be posted in the two local papers up near Dad, wanted to pass it along to you all.

Peggy A. Loyd, age 82, of Chambersburg, PA, passed away on Sunday, September 3, 2017, at Michaux Manor. Born in Roanoke, VA on January 13, 1935, she was the daughter of the late John Robert and Glenna MacDonald Brunk Brooks.

Peggy was a 1957 graduate of Virginia Tech with a degree in Home Economics. She worked as a teacher for 13 years, retiring in   2000.  Most notably, Peggy was the examiner of the pop top beverage can for the patent office. Artistic in nature, Peggy enjoyed quilting, crocheting, and cooking. She enjoyed hearing other people laugh.

Surviving is her husband, Patrick "Pat" Loyd, whom she married on February 20, 1965 ; three children, Patrick Loyd, Jr. of Ashburn, VA, Paul Loyd of Bethesda, MD, and Peggy Anne McAloon of Leonardtown, MD; and four grandchildren.

A gathering to celebrate Peggy's life will be held on  Saturday, September 16, 2017  from 12:00 - 3:00 PM  in the upper room at Paul's Country Market, 6374 Nunnery Rd Waynesboro, PA 17268    Please park in the back.
Arrangements are entrusted to the Thomas L. Geisel Funeral Home and Cremation Center, Chambersburg, PA. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Peggy's name to the charity of one's choice. Online condolences may be offered on her Book of Memories page at

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A gathering to celebrate Mom's life will be held on 

Saturday, September 16, 2017 
from 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
in the upper room at 
Paul's Country Market
6374 Nunnery Road
Waynesboro, PA 17268

Please park in the back.
Light refreshments will be served.


Click on the arrow to hear On the Sunny Side of the Street by Louis Armstrong
performed and recorded by Brian Simms
Solar kitschy things from Mom's sunny window,
she was an avid collector.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Peggy Anne Brooks Loyd
January 13, 1935 - September 3, 2017

A date for a memorial celebration will be announced soon...
stay tuned.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Brief Update

I went to visit Mom on this past Saturday. She was very agitated when i got there but she settled down after some Ativan and morphine. She drifted in and out of a light sleep while we watched tv. 

She ate some rice pudding that I found in her fridge (Perhaps from you Nancy?) and sipped some tea. It was good to hold her hand and share the day with her.

Mom is now on routine doses of morphine to deal with the amount of pain she is withstanding. She seems to be serene and peaceful with the dosage level she is on.

As of now, Mom stays in bed except for infrequent, exhausting trips to the bathroom. She eats very little, today she needed her fruit pureed before eating a few bites. For awhile now Dad has been bringing Mom a fresh cup of coffee each visit. He thoughtfully bought a sippy cup along this afternoon and Mom was able to enjoy her fresh cup of joe in bed without spilling.

I went back to school today to prepare for the 4 year olds to show up next Tuesday.

It's okay, People, it's okay.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

How Can This Be?

Mom decided week before last that she didn't want to continue blood transfusions. At that point her hemoglobin was 8.2. Mom didn't get blood work done this past week but if the trend continues it means that her hemoglobin was in the 7's this past week. Dr. Kent, Mom's palliative care doctor, said her hemoglobin may not drop a point a week as it has been, it may plateau at some point. So there's that.

This Friday I called the Manor and Mary let me know that Mom has been skipping meals, crying a lot, in pain a lot and refusing morphine for relief.

Mike and I decided to travel up Friday afternoon to visit with Mom and talk to her about the morphine option . After Mike, the kids and I traveled through a storm, behind us I saw this:

Rainbows always seem to come at a time when I need them. Strength, reassurance, hope.

We had a quick visit Friday evening.

Sidebar: Over the past few weeks she has been sending bags of stuff home. Dad slugs home a bag of non dairy creamer, some throw pillows, a small quilt.

Saturday A.M. Mom fusted around. I knew she was serious. She had me pack her framed photos, her cards and letters. She had me take a frame with a montage of pictures of family and friends off the wall. She made sure I understood she wanted me to take her scarves home with me. She took off her cross necklace and pointed to my neck.

People? She cleaned out the sock drawer of her novelty socks, only leaving the soft, fleecy, grippy kind.

This woman is a control freak. I kept reassuring her that we didn't need to do this now, I could take care of it later. No mam, no sir. SHE was going to sort her OWN socks and make sure I knew she wanted ME to take them home. Okay Mom, okay.

Mike and the kids came and they fusted around Mom's room, really making a mess of the joint and Mom loved it. Round 11:15 A.M. Saturday Mom threw her purse around her neck and pointed to all four of us and pointed to the door. I did NOT want to take Mom back to the house. My last trip up I took her back to the house when her hemoglobin was higher. She did some final things and generally fusted around. I assumed THAT was her final trip. NOPE. Mom had other plans yesterday.

I was worried that she would fall. I was worried that she would be too weak for me to transfer her from the car to her chair and so on. I threw up my hands. If I killed the woman on the bathroom floor at home, at least she died doing what she wanted to do. News report: we both made it.

Later that evening as she laid in bed exhausted but peaceful, I told her that I had talked to Dad and we both agreed that if she wants to take morphine to help with her pain management we were okay with that. It would be her decision to make. She screwed up her face as if to say "quit yapping, I ain't touchin' that stuff".

Sidebar: Mom and Dad's belief on morphine is that we use it at the end. Mom has emphatically said NO whenever we have discussed her taking morphine. Morphine makes her loopy, uncomfortable in her own skin, not herself. In her eyes, morphine is a vehicle towards putting her out. Done.

When I asked  Mom last night if it was time for morphine, her eyes went wide and she said NO. I assured her it was her choice, she is the only one who knows her level of pain and what she is willing to tolerate. She ho hummed and pointed to the door for me to go. Sweet dreams, Mama.

We returned this A.M. to low humity, blue skies and sunshine on the mountain.

After Mom enjoyed some hazelnut coffee and a cranberry orange muffin from Rutters, we headed outside.

Julie wheeled Mom around the parking lot two times and then Mom parked herself in the sun, in her glory.

Mom seemed tired. She had gone all day yesterday without rest, not getting back into bed until 4 P.M. when she is used to 2 naps a day. She had really pushed herself and it was showing today.

We got her back inside, I wrote a note card saying "Please call  Peggy Anne" so she can point to it if she wants to talk to me, gathered our stuff, and Julie pushed Mom to the door to say goodbye.

We had an uneventful three-point-five hour trip home. Our usual stops and no traffic (unheard of). We arrived home by 2:30 P.M.

3:45 P.M. I'm sitting outside of Dollar General (we are making our own eclipse glasses, thanks  Rycraft, cause NOBODY has eclipse big whoop) and I get a call from the Manor. Jennifer tells me Mom has asked for morphine. I talk to Mom and she just moans. I tell her she is making a good choice and that I love her. I ask Jennifer to tape the "Please call Peggy Anne" card to Mom's T.V. remote. I call Dad. I call Doris (Mom's angel driver/friend from the Manor). They both head over to bring Mom comfort as we don't know how Mom will react to the morphine. I let Paul know what's up. He called Mom and talked to her. Dad has headed home, Doris is still there.

I'm gonna hold tight here at home. For all we know, this lady will be up and eating breakfast tomorrow. I was just up there and Mom had the chance to start morphine with me there. She chose to wait and that's okay with me. She's rascally like that. This is her show, certainly not mine.

Mom's choosing some extreme self care at this point. Choices that are good for her body and good for her mind. Self care is good for the body and soul, regardless of the price. I am going to make choices that are good for my body and good for my mind. I'm going to encourage my family to do the same. Perhaps you can too. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Little Visitor

Mom's hemoglobin dipped below 8 last week and she received a blood transfusion last Friday, July 21st. She did her usual singing when the transfusion was over and seemed a little more perky.

When I visited the Manor this Wednesday, everyone mentioned how Mom didn't bounce back like she usually does after a transfusion. She has been skipping meals, occasionally not choosing to dress for the day, getting up later. Mom would shun me for telling you all, so don't tell her I told you, the woman is in pain. A tremendous amount of pain. She can put on a good show, but her stamina for keeping up the front is weakening.

Mom's hemoglobin usually gets up to 10 after a transfusion. This time it topped out at 9.1. We are anxious to see what next Wednesday's blood work will bring; if the loosing 1 point a week trend will continue or if her hemoglobin will drop more significantly.

We have recently noticed that if Mom is low on the hemoglobin level, it is difficult to have her come to the house. She is weak and I have a hard time transferring her from chair to toilet to chair to car seat. I get anxious about keeping her safe on my watch. A couple times recently we have chosen to visit at the Manor because in her weaken condition it's just not safe to bring Mom down the mountain.

Since she had just gotten a transfusion, this past Thursday I brought Mom down the mountain for lunch at the house. Crab cakes, spiced shrimp, hot crab dip, yummy baby tomatoes, unripened mango, hot coffee with hazelnut creamer and ice cold water. We all had a great visit. We watched birds, took care of Julie's 3 babies (oh Mom laughed about that), and ate way too much food. Mom spent some time going through a couple drawers and closets, forcing objects upon me, some wanted - some unwanted. Satisfied with her visit, I got Mom back up the mountain in time for a nap before supper.

Dad recently invested in an oil diffusor and some frankincense, an essential oil known to help with pain. Her Dr wrote the orders so Mom can take melatonin before she sleeps to help her painful body rest. Mom doesn't want to up her pain meds, she doesn't want to add to the cocktail, she seems to just want to suffer through. We all know she is an ox and right about now she is showing her true colors. She's gonna meet this pain head on and show it who is boss till shes ready to be done.

I love the staff at the Manor. When I was visiting a couple weeks ago, an off duty care provider came bustling through Mom's door, trying to man handle this over-sized Chihuahua. She laughed and explained to me that she had told Mom that her puppy was getting big and that Mom TOLD HER to bring the puppy in for Mom to see for herself. Dad and I talk like this all the time, "Mom said..." "Your mother said..." as if Mom is actually speaking words rather than communicating through gestures and a game of 20 questions. The Manor staff see Mom just like we do; a strong woman who can bring a smile to your face, make you feel better by holding your hand, and dee by gum you better listen to her when she SPEAKS TO YOU.