Strange viewpoint from a 50something

Archive for November, 2012

Home now is just a house.

 

Very low key, this drive to St Louis was. I sat in my car outside her house a few minutes.. a little hestitant to go in. I might have sat there longer but little brother was inside waiting for me to arrive. He must have heard me pull up because he was coming out to meet me as I got out of my car. The sadness and relief felt by us both as we stood there and hugged.
After a couple hours of talking and crying and laughing, he asked if I was sure I was ok to stay here – you know – by myself. And I was. I hadn’t felt uncomfortable being in the house… except looking at the empty bed sitting in the dining room. Stripped and lowered, it was now just a piece of equipment. The first thing on my list is to call and have all of this stuff picked up. I want to get the dining room table back in there, so it’s more home than ‘Mom’s last stand’.
I went to bed in a very, very quiet house. Her air machines were noisy but once you were used to the sound it became soothing. So there I layed… in the quiet… going crazy!! I turned the television on and went right to sleep.

The guy came early, picked up the bed and things the following day. Now that the table and chairs are back in their spots, things ‘feel’ almost normal. This has been home for 35 years.. but there remains a vacancy. Her presence is missing. Strange, but when she was in the hospital and we came into this house, she was here, you could feel her. Walking around today I still feel little wiffs of her but there is such an emptiness now. ugh.
Tomorrow will be even stranger as Kenny and I will go speak to someone about her arrangements. She was very clear about what she wanted done and we are determined to honor all that she asked.
I’ve mostly been my adult self the last few days. Whenever the little girl in me shows herself that’s when her death is the hardest. The child in me cries. The child in me doesn’t want to let go… Momma…

Momma…

She’s gone.

I don’t know that I have processed it fully. My brother called me this morning to let me know she died in her sleep. I was not prepared for the news. My greatest fear has now been realized. I will not see her again in this life.┬áMy heart is heavy, those feelings of love and hurt are so thick.

After about a hundred phones calls and 3/4 box of tissues, it has been decided I will return to St Louis tomorrow. My sister is due to fly in Thursday. There’s not much else for us to do at this point, except be together. My Mom’s wishes were very clear and easy. She did it that way for us. So, we will get together as siblings and we will cry and we will remember and we will cry some more. Our time there will be limited so the task of taking care of her things… ugh… I can’t even fathom. But it has to be done. And by us. Together. Just like she wanted.

I looked at myself in the mirror a while ago.. the older me on the outside shows the signs of hours of crying with puffy eyes and a pink tissue abused nose. And deep in my eyes… I saw my little-girl self looking back asking, “what’m I gonna do now?”

Living While Dying..

I’ve spent the last week tending to my Mom. The time has been fun and easy, as she is such a good soul. She doesn’t require much ‘babysitting’, in fact she hates the hovering! Still the most independent person I know, she insists things go her way. And as restricted as she is, she wants the last word!! Haha!! The most that I have been doing is cooking her meals and making sure her coffee maker (which is positioned next to her bed) is ready to go for the next day.

We had a visit yesterday from one of her doctors. (Who knew some still make house calls!?!?) I found out after he had left that it wasn’t a doctor/patient visit… he came and sat with my Mom as a friend. I am… overwhelmed. This man took time out of his day and came to her home, and just visited. And when he left… he hugged my Mom. In this day and age, any doctor who takes a personal interest (like this housecall) in their patients is so very rare. And you could tell, as they interacted, that his concern was genuine.

In 90% of her mind she is sure that this way of life will not last long… (and I am NOT talking about her anticipating her death here!) she is determined to live life on her terms! She truly believes that she will work herself back to life lived alone. I love her spunk and determination.. even if she tires easily she still wants to do it herself. Currently she can only move herself from bed to bathroom, and back again. Or from bed to her chair in living room. Now these excursions are not more than 10 to 15 ft, but it takes a good 10 minutes for her to recover.. the air use to just move that little bit of space overloads her very damaged lungs. She is such a trooper though… still believing that she can bring herself back. From where I sit, I don’t see how she can recover from all the damage, but I do see a woman who has great hope and faith. Talking to my sister by phone, we came to the same conclusion… it’s because of that hope and faith that she is doing as well as she is. Had she gone into some sort of care facility or senior home, she would have already given up and died. But being at home, in her own environment… that’s made the difference.
The other 10% of her mind is spent thinking of all the things she wants everyone to have. Out of the blue she will direct me to something stashed somewhere in her huge house and tell me to get it out and give it to ______ (insert name here). Nothing found is super important.. (bows for my daughter?!) but to her it’s very important! While I’m here, any request to do anything will be fulfilled. No matter how insignifigant it might seem to me, if she asks I will answer.

The funny thing about all this is the term – “death watch”. The sibs and I were told that she is going to die. The doctor explained that she didn’t have long to live. But the more I think of that.. the more I realize how stupid it is. Death watch. We are all on it. And not just for other people but for ourselves as well. (I remember when I was young and I finally understood what death meant… damn I was mad!! In my little girl mind I just kept coming back to one thought… why would people bring children into this world knowing that the end result is death? How unfair!!) So what makes this different? We are all going to die. So because of Mom’s unique situation, we are suppose to sit around and wait for her death? My Mom isn’t. And what am I learning? That I won’t either. Her inspiration is so very strong and I hear it loud and clear!!

What a turn of events… this living while dying thing.