Friday, June 10, 2016


The heat of the summer day pervaded the small bed room as it did the rest of the house. The assembly of relatives and staff from hospice, going and coming, the phone calls to doctors and nurses all contributed to the confusion and discomfort but took my mind off the coming reality that soon, too soon, in spite of her 96 years, Mom would soon be leaving us.

As I looked at her in her bed, her arms were now useless, she could not move them, and all her body functions were slowly fading away. I sat next to her the chair close to the bed as I leaned into her right ear and we talked. We talked about many things that day, some had to do with family, she seemed angry about something I won’t mention here, but she was disappointed. She told me so and so I changed the subject.

One of the things I always loved to do was tell Mom stories that made her laugh, or stories she could tell about herself from questions I asked her. I would spend each day for the prior two weeks at her bedside for most of the morning, and she looked forward to it. Many of the stories started with: “Mom, you remember when…” and at the end, she would be laughing.

When she wished she had a TV in her room, I went out and using her money got her two, one for her care taker Anna and one for her bedroom. Her desire was to watch the Mass since she felt needing to go to Mass, it gave her comfort in her final hours. Then she complained she couldn’t hear the TV, so I went to Radio Shack and purchased a remote headset for her to hear, making her Mass more meaningful.

But every day that I left her, I felt the guilt, knowing I would not have very many opportunities left to see her. I had a life I had to live and at some point in each day I had to go back to it, to live it and to restore some normalcy in my life, yet still I harbored the guilt, it poked me at the oddest times, cruelly reminding me that she laid hopeless and lonely in her deathbed, abandoned for the rest of the day, maybe her last. I didn’t want to say to myself the rest of my life: “If only…”.

Over the course of the previous few months, she was in hospitals, and rehab homes, fearing she would never go home again, and expressed that to me. I tried to assure her that she would never be put in a nursing home no matter what. I controlled her money and would spend it all if I had to and then allow Medicaid to pick up the tab to keep her in her own home.

Tomorrow she will be gone 2 years, her age would have been 98 and she lived a long life, from poverty to the joy of seeing her children have children, and their children having children. But no matter what, her suffering is over, her life has left an impression on me, and taught me many lessons, whether I wanted those lessons or not.


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