This began on March 8, 2011.
It chronicles Mom’s journey of almost three years. Thank you SO MUCH for all your thoughts, prayers, cards, flowers and visits over the years; from her February 22, 2011, admission to Howard County General through her years at Lorien until she left this earth for heaven on February 17, 2014, to be with the good Lord, and reunite with many family and friends who’d gone before her. Regular blog entries ended on March 8, 2014, but periodic updates on news about the family will continue.
Mom would like that.
Hi there and happy SPRING to everyone! I took my walk outdoors today. Scott came along on part of the walk. Once he headed back, I started noticing things differently. Daffodils. Buds on the trees. That awful mulch smell! Ha.
It seemed a good time to have a “conversation” with Mom. So, I did. I just finished reading “The Orphaned Adult”, which was a powerful book which built to quite a crescendo for me. Today was also my first day in going back to church since Mom died. As I said to someone (about this topic), I guess I’ve been pretty angry that Mom is with God and no longer here with me! Yet, I’m getting used to the idea. Fortunately, Pastor Mark delivered a great sermon this morning and the music was especially inspiring. Thankfully, we are very pleased with Seneca Creek Community Church and are thinking about making it our church home. I’ll close with a picture of Mom’s suncatcher. It looks particularly lovely today.
It’s been one month since the memorial service. And this is the first weekend in three years (absent travel) that I haven’t been in Mount Airy at some point. Earlier in the week I tried to orchestrate a reason to visit the dream team (who are working this weekend) at Lorien. Then, I realized that I’m still trying to hold on (not surprising) and likely need to begin taking steps in a different direction…a la have a weekend that I don’t go to Mt. Airy. So, Scott has filled my dance card this weekend even more than it was already filled. Today was busy, but tomorrow was basically open after 10:30 a.m. following a 7:45 a.m. “career coaching coffee” and a 9:15 a.m. church service. Now, we are going to go over to Annapolis for the afternoon and join friends, Clare and Bill, for happy hour and early dinner. Good…
On other fronts, Wayne is beginning his return to bowling and will practice this Tuesday with friend, Justin, and they will join a summer league together. He also planted his tomato plants today in the basement. In 3 – 4 days, he’ll take them to the greenhouse for an eventual garden planting the first week of May. Randy is working crazy hours (tax season). Andy is out of town for work, but doing well and in contact. We are going over this afternoon to check on his house, despite the fact that he has a “smart house” and can sign in to cameras inside and outside the house to see what is going on. Who knew?
Prayer request – please keep the Rob Toatley family in prayer. He worked at DAI on the IT help desk and died yesterday suddenly of a heart attack. 44 y.o. four kids, aged 21, 19, 15 and 13. In my job as head of HR, I deal with the families during these situations and orchestrate the benefits coordination (continued medical, life insurance, retirement, etc.). Yesterday was a very sad day in our Bethesda office.
Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend. We are thrilled that spring is technically here, although there is SNOW in the forecast for this coming Tuesday!
Happy third birthday to the blog!
260 views as the all time high for one day.
Almost two dozen “subscribers”.
I just got finished watching Carrie Underwood belt out her rendition of “How Great Thou Art”. A friend of mine posted it on Facebook. As tears rolled down my face, the video made me think about Mom (of course), and how she is probably now able to sing it even better than Carrie. Mom couldn’t carry a tune at all with her earthly voice, but I suspect she’s belting out songs in heaven now.
It’s been 19 days. The crushing grief and sadness comes in waves. I realize that I lost my twin – born 25 years before me. That is how it feels. I think it is going to feel that way for the rest of my life until we are reunited again at my passing. Eternity is hard for mere mortals to imagine, but if I can focus on the fact that we had 58 years, and at some point, we’ll have eternity, then maybe the pain I feel will ease somewhat? Not so much right now. My dance card is filling up with friends and family, work, teaching and more. Yet it’s just plain surreal. Life goes on? As someone said to me, you expect wars to stop or time to bend for a while. But that old sun keeps coming up every day, just like it did before. Aggravating! I’ve talked to a LOT of people who have lost their mother and it helps to share and listen, but when it’s YOUR loss… I don’t know. It’s indescribable. Some solace to share and listen, nonetheless. Some solace in prayer as well.
Today, I’m headed out to Mt. Airy to see Wayne and help him with Mom’s clothes, and just to “check in”. But I’m running out of things to do that connect me to Mom. Wish there was more I could do…
. Well, I promised this “final” entry on the third birthday of the blog. But you know, I’ve had people tell me, “don’t take the blog down” and “you could still do entries periodically”. Well, I am not going to take the blog down, but as things changed for Mom a month or so before she died, things have changed for me too. This blog has been MY outlet. It certainly accomplished its original intended purpose of keeping Mom’s network of people informed of what was going on with her. But this blog also was MY anchor these past three years. It still is today. It was a “place” I could come and share what was going on with Mom through my lens as her daughter. So, I will post periodically. Likely on Mother’s Day, Mom’s birthday and maybe Christmas. Updates about Wayne, me, Andy, etc. Why not? Staying connected to Mom’s blog community just “feels” good. That said, PLEASE stay in touch with me and Wayne through any/all means that you like. I am a Facebook person, so “friend me” on Facebook. Our contact information is: Wayne Hough 17740 Hardy Rd. Mt. Airy, MD 21771, 410-795-6987, balacyh@Comcast.net Laura Viehmyer 9924 Foxborough Circle, Rockville, MD 20850, 301-466-5857, email@example.com.
There are no words to thank you appropriately for the love, support, encouragement, compassion and caring you’ve shown to Mom…and to Wayne and me…over this three year period. The cards, the letters, the flowers, the visits and the blog comments themselves were many times… an oasis in the desert…a life raft in the ocean… Truly PRICELESS. And now the incredible expressions of sympathy and condolences. I am humbled and in awe of it all. As I reflected last night over dinner with my Mom’s chief nurse, Dawn Merrill, the good Lord was working overtime these past three years. He gave Mom the time to reconnect with those she loved and who loved her. And He paid attention to all the details along the way. I am so grateful – for everything. And I have no regrets.
With love, affection and deep admiration, Laura
My mom always taught me to send thank yous. They needed to be from the heart and sent in a timely manner. I’d been thinking about this letter for a while. Wayne agrees with it and we both will sign. Thought I’d share it with the blog community.
March 10, 2014
Chief Executive Officer
Lorien Health Systems Corporate Office
3300 North Ridge Road, Suite 390
Ellicott City, MD 21043
Re: Barbara A. Hough – care at Lorien Mt. Airy
Dear Mr. Grimmel,
This is one of those letters that you look forward to receiving. We are the family of Barbara A. Hough who was a patient/resident at Lorien Mt. Airy for almost three years in the Dorsey wing of the facility. Mom (Anne) suffered from COPD, severe emphysema and osteoporosis to name a few of her medical challenges. From the date of her arrival on April 28, 2011, until her passing on February 17, 2014, absent four short hospitalizations, she received outstanding care that helped enhance the quality of her life in her final years. There are some special caregivers that deserve recognition which we want to bring to your attention and formally acknowledge.
Dawn Marie Merrill
Dawn connected with Mom on the day of her first admission in April of 2011. It was magical chemistry and a quick bond. Dawn’s outstanding nursing care was only surpassed by the incredible rapport and relationship she built with Mom, as well as with the family. Mom was unable to speak because of her tracheotomy and her inability to tolerate a deflated cuff. Dawn perfected her “lip reading” and used this skill to understand and take care of Mom’s needs and help her communicate with physicians and other caregivers. Dawn was also a relentless advocate and facilitator of communication between the family, Lorien staff and administrators, with one objective in mind; the best care possible. She went beyond the call of duty so many times, it would be impossible to recount them all. Suffice it to say, Lorien Mt. Airy is lucky to have someone of Dawn’s competence, caliber and compassion on the nursing staff.
Sheila began working for Lorien Mt. Airy after Mom’s initial admission, but became one of Mom’s “favorites.” Sheila’s easy-going style combined with her attentiveness to patients with spectacular results. As a small woman with minimal appetite, Mom’s weight continued to drop throughout her residency. Thanks to Sheila’s innovative spirit and her high school cheerleader background, she developed a game to play with Mom on the shifts that she worked. It involved the “clean plate club”. So, whether a family member or an aide removed Mom’s tray, it had to be taken to Sheila to show that she’d cleaned her plate. This earned Mom the chance to see Sheila “do a cheer”. Mom delighted in making Sheila “cheer” for her, and secretly we all knew Mom got more calories as a result, and that made for a brighter day overall.
Beth was also a later addition to the Lorien team, joining in 2012. We were never sure, but the family was convinced that Beth had a sense of hearing far beyond that of any “normal” human being. She could hear vent alarms from amazing distances and never had to be summoned to attend to patients. How she provided the close care to so many vent patients simultaneously bordered on miraculous. It seemed she never sat down! It never mattered how many times Mom needed suctioning in a day; Beth was there – bringing the brightest smile and sweetest disposition with her as she handled Mom’s respiratory needs. Beth brought a rare combination of her skill and her gentle spirit to her care of patients. How amazing to watch someone work who never seemed to have a bad day or utter a cross word!
This man calmed patients with a look or the touch of his hand. Mom was always thrilled when Tyrone was her respiratory therapist, especially if she was having a particularly anxious day. Tyrone’s special blend of pulmonary skill and peaceful influence, along with his fantastic tenor singing voice, made such a difference in Mom’s life, and likely in the lives of a long list of other patients as well! Tyrone knew that his professional skills were only part of his talent. His bedside manner could turn a difficult day into a good one. He did that for Mom on countless occasions.
John left Lorien Mt. Airy in the fall of 2012 to move to a new facility in Frederick, and yet he provided amazing respiratory care for Mom at the outset and until he left. When John was working, we knew that Mom was getting the best care. John brought another key strength. He was a relentless advocate for the best technology available for pulmonary patients. He served as a knowledgeable educator to Mom and to our family in understanding Mom’s disease, as well as what technology might aide her mobility and/or allow her to potentially speak. His guidance helped us all adjust to our new “circumstances”.
The quiet weekday respiratory therapist, Florina never left Mom when she was in need. She would stay with her until whatever issue that affected her breathing was resolved. Florina patiently and consistently tried multiple options until she was able to restore calm, and she explained each step of her processes as she went along. Definitely, a key player in Mom’s pulmonary care.
If Mom could have adopted Kelly, she would have done so in a hot minute. An aide’s role isn’t the easiest, but Kelly fulfilled the role ably and with such patience, love and devotion, that Mom came to rely on her for some of her most delicate needs. The trust that formed surpassed all understanding. It was just a delight to watch the relationship between them. During one of Mom’s hospitalizations, Kelly made the drive up to Carroll County Hospital in Westminster to “check in” on her, and delighted in Mom’s quick return back to Lorien. This is so far above any expectation of care giving! In return, Mom delighted in the highlights of Kelly’s life as a mom of four adorable children.
A fairly new addition to the Lorien team, Michelle is a “Kelly clone”. In the short time that Michelle cared for Mom, she delighted in seeing her face, and knowing she could relax because “Michelle was going to take care of her now”. This type of peace is priceless to a patient whose world is confined to a small room.
If anything got to Suzanne’s attention, it was because there was a weak link in some process. No caregiver acknowledged in this letter ever constituted a weak link. That said, when Suzanne got involved, questions/inquiries/concerns were acknowledged and addressed. While it’s never fun to “see the manager”, it is great to employ a manager who can be relied on to effectively deal with issues or situations that require judgment and discernment.
A juggler. A coordinator. A master communicator. We are not sure where to begin to extol the virtues of a woman who helped orchestrate the most effective quarterly family care meetings imaginable. She was the one who made sure that all information was current and available, all action items were promptly handled, and brought three months of historical data into the meetings. Joanna made sure that the unit nurse did her job before coming to these meetings, too! She was also helpful in expanding the attendance of these meetings to include respiratory in the fall of 2012. We always knew that if we sent an e-mail to Joanna, that we’d get a substantive response sooner than we expected – because she cared about doing the best job possible!
We hope the leadership of Lorien treasures these employees! They richly deserve it. And to them…our deepest thanks and gratitude for making the final years of life for Barbara (Anne) Hough as happy and joyous as they could possibly be. Please convey our admiration for their care and loving service to each of these staff members! It doesn’t get any better than Lorien Mt. Airy’s “dream team” of caregivers.
Before closing, we’d like to also acknowledge your “on call” pulmonary physician, Dr. Sanjay Shah. Who gives out his personal cell phone number to the family? Who is available for consults on short notice? He did. We looked forward to his usual Friday afternoon visits for regular updates and always appreciated his insights and personal touch.
Laura L. Viehmyer (daughter)
Wayne C. Hough (husband)
Happy snowy Monday. I was actually thinking this morning that I thank the good Lord for the good weather two weeks ago today. If we had THIS weather two weeks ago, I doubt that Wayne, Mary, Scott or me would have been able to get to Mom “in time” that Monday morning.
Anyway, I feel stronger today somehow, so your prayers for me must be working! Please continue to pray for us all, especially Wayne. Scott and I went to see him yesterday afternoon after we returned from our whirlwind 4 days in Florida. We visited for about an hour and a half. I’ll go back for another visit next Saturday.
Anyway, I am hoping that everyone is/has been watching the five videos posted of the memorial service. I put them up on March 1. If you weren’t able to attend the service, I’d especially appreciate hearing your comments (through the blog or privately). I’ve watched them with a number of folks who couldn’t attend and they’ve continued to be a blessing to me. I’ll check back in on Saturday with my final blog post…