Today (January 1, 2010) marks one year since my mother passed away.  Yes, this has been/is a rough holiday season since it is the first one I’ve gone through since my mother’s death.  Overall my level of grief is much less these days than it was during the first three months after my mother’s death.  But the winter holidays have definitely make my grief more difficult to bear.

The day before my mother passed away, I promised her that I would work to bring about improvements in the quality of nursing home care so that NO nursing home resident need ever suffer like my mother did as the result of the abuse, abandonment, neglect and outright negligence that she experienced during nearly 5 years she lived in various nursing homes.  Maintaining this blog and regularly praying for nursing home residents and the nursing home industry are the main ways that I’ve honored my mom’s memory over the past year.  I’ve also done quite a bit of reading and done some contacting of my state legislators over the past year.

I also never miss a chance to tell the story of what happened to my mother to anyone who will listen.  On the occasion of what would have been her 80th birthday (December 9, 2009), I gave away one dozen roses to honor her memory to one dozen women — one rose per person. My mother loved flowers, especially red and yellow roses, so this seemed a fitting tribute to her memory.  Most all of the women I presented with a rose also took the time to let me tell them about what happened to my mother as the result of pathetic nursing home care, including how it contributed to her death.

During 2010 I’m going to be even more of an activist for nursing home reform as a way of honoring my mom’s memory.  Through working with Kentuckians for Nursing Home Reform and trying to organize activists in my home state of Indiana and by talking to the news media and state legislators I hope to add more action to my prayers. I’m also looking into volunteering at a nursing home in the Metro Louisville area.

Sure, my motivation for my prayers and action is a deep love for my mother.  I’m also motivated by not wanting any other nursing home resident to suffer like she did.  I’m also convinced that the only way for nursing homes to get better is a combination of prayer and political action.  I’m not crossing the line that separates church and state.  I’m merely allowing my Christian faith to be a source of inspiration and strength for the task of making positive changes in the nursing home industry.

Allow me to challenge you with the same question that I’ve asked myself many times over the couse of 2009: What are you doing — today and every day — to make positive changes in the quality of life of nursing home residents?

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