Death: The Last Countdown..

The Story of Mom's Passing

Mom was now totally pissed off we had moved her to the second floor of her retirement home a few weeks ago, (to an even more deluxe apartment), that had assisted nursing care. From the time we moved her up there, until she was nearly unconscious, she was bitching about it. Somehow she managed to get herself down to lobby each day & stayed there until someone would help her back upstairs to bed. I showed up on a Wednesday, at the same time as my sister-in-law & mom finally asked to go up. She had her walker, but had to eventually sit down on it because she was too weak to stand, so we dragged her backwards to the apartment & then had me lift her onto the toilet. I was SO glad she was getting more care by this point! I said goodbye to her that night; she was in bed, while pretty helpless physically. I read to her out of one of her favorite books; (I read from the bible to my dad before he died), placed a small teddy bear up next to her cheek & she said, "That feels nice", kissed her on the head, told her to take care & goodnight. It felt like the last time I would see her & it felt right.

By Saturday morning she was non-responsive when her aide walked in. She had had a stroke & the idiots at the home called 911 before calling us. She had a clear 'No Measures' directive right on her fridge. By the time my brother & sister could get there, they were loading her into an ambulance. My sister actually got in & yelled, "YOU CAN'T TAKE HER!" The EMTs couldn't take her out legally, so mom spent the next twelve f-ing hours laying in a bed in the emergency room before the retirement home would take her back, & only WITH round the clock nursing care, at the tune of $800 a day. They finally transferred her back & she was flat out until Sunday evening. A lot people were moving around in her room; nurses, hospice & family talking. She opened her eyes at one point & tried moving her arms around as if to say, 'GET THE HELL OUT OF MY ROOM!' She was now semi-conscious but very weak: going in & out of sleep.

On Monday she had a surge of energy for a few hours; friends called & stopped by & she even got out of bed to sit in her living room for a little while. She was then put back to bed & my sister said goodnight to her..... also adding, 'it was fine for her to go' She opened her eyes & said, clear as a bell,"GO WHERE?"

I probably should have visited that day, but finally decided to go Tuesday morning just to be nearby with the family. She was now on oxygen, had that damn death rattle & must have weighed about 100 pounds. My sister made sure her head was turned the other way before I entered the room, as I did not want to remember her looking that way & I asked everyone to leave so I could talk to her for awhile. Unfortunately, I found myself lecturing her; not really knowing if I was doing this for myself or her. 'Really mom, it's time to go! It's really fine! I know you're in pain....we love you, but it's really time....' She was still fighting, fighting, fighting all the way! By then my younger sister & I couldn't stand to listening to her anymore, so we drove down to the local tavern, called our brother to join us & sat around drinking beer. My other sister & her husband arrived at the home by then, not realizing we had left. Strangely, a friend of my other sister was also there, who had recently lost her parents & one of my mom's best friends showed up as well. They sat stroking my mom's arm & talking gently to her, while my sister sat near by. Within a few minutes, she passed. We got the call at the tavern & were a bit loopy by this time. We drove back to the home & saw her brow now unfurrowed & her face finally at peace.

It's all so complicated, this death thing. My dad had passed away three years before; three months in failing health & then was done. He had himself very turned around by the end, 'knew' where he was going & off he went. I haven't felt him since, as if he is very far far away. My mother started this steady decline about a year ago with increasing macular degeneration, diabetes, depression, anxiety & enough cantankerousness left in her for a good twelve months. We, as a family, were infighting, exhausted & resentful. She had had a particularly difficult childhood & interior life & we had been part of it, all the way. Even a hospice person said, "Your mom is quite stubborn, isn't she?"

So, she's gone. Maybe I'll be devastated eventually. Right now I'm not; just mostly relieved, for her & for us. 


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