My Mother passed on March 12th, less than one month ago . . .
Most of us have no idea what we may or may not do when this chapter of our lives unfolds. Daddy passed 19 years ago. My mother and my brother, who passed 13 years ago, bought a home together. I moved her a total of 4 times in the last 19 years. I cared for Mother for 14 years of those 19 years. She was wheelchair bound for 13 years with spinal stenosis after refusing therapy and surgery. Her very low tolerance to pain was the cause. Two years in her own home with morning CNA care once my older brother passed. I was then working full time so my evenings were spent assuring her care until bedtime. I then moved her to a very lovely senior apartment for 6 years with double shifts morning and evening with CNA care. Her health began failing and early signs of dementia set in. There was later an EPISODE, which is usually the event which starts rehab and the need for long term care. Once it was determined that she required 24/7 care, she was admitted to a long term care facility 5 minutes from my home.
She asked if she could live with me and I could only say she couldn’t because I was working full time. My home is a 3 bedroom town home with all bedroom upstairs and could not accommodate her wheel chair. Once admitted, I was there 5 out of 7 days, often 7 days a week to assure her care. There episodes, the need for constant intervention, Advocacy and assistance in her care. I sat with her through her meals, laundered her clothes, assured her hair care, nails and hygienic needs were met and attended activities with her.
As her health changed, there were many hospital visits where I sat in emergency rooms, hospital rooms for days and hours and accompanied her to many specialty doctors offices. I encouraged her to eat and to live once a major stroke affected her greatly in September 2014. It left her paralyzed on one side and totally bedridden. The staff and I spoon fed her until in December 2014; she stopped eating. I then consulted with her Dr. regarding IV fluids to sustain her hydration. I requested shift to shift vital monitoring to determine how her body was reacting to what the dementia and stroke had introduced. Lack of mobility, no matter how often repositioned, caused bed sores, then pneumonia, which 3 1/2 weeks ago took her home.
I was not there when she passed, although I knew she was transitioning. I went home to rest with the intention to return early morning. I began to dress at 5:00 a.m. I felt a pain in my stomach and be came nauseated at 5:15. As I was preparing to leave my home, a call came at 5:38 and my heart sank. Mother passed at 5:30, quietly in her sleep. I felt overwhelmed with grief.
I still struggle to this day because I was not there. My pastor, family, friends and my own conscience reminds me that I WAS there, in her heart as I always was. God nor she, wanted me to see her transition.
Was it hard? Extremely! Am I exhausted. Yes! Would I do it again. Most assuredly, with lessons learned.
I have asked my children not to try to care for me in their homes if I some day reach this need for care. Elders need interaction, socializing, activities, hands-on care and assistance with meals. I hope I’m planning well. If not, I ask them to take steps for outside care.
I sang at Mother’s funeral, gave Reflections of her life and her illness, focusing on her last years. I was told it was beautifully delivered and awe-inspiring as it brought to focus the love and challenges of CARE GIVING.
Just writing this has calmed some of the sadness I have felt from losing her because I revisited my walk. A WALK OF LOVE.
We’re all different, handling things individually. I love her so much but she is no longer suffering. NEITHER AM I.