Strange viewpoint from a 50something

Posts tagged ‘love for a parent’

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.

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The words have been said.

Last year when I hit the guardrail and came out unscathed… I knew how lucky I was. I’ve spent alot of time pondering death. Death in general as a subject is interesting. But thinking about my own death has had a strange effect on me. The idea of the world going on without so much as a blink of an eye the minute I die. The mark that remains on those I leave behind will fade after a time and next thing you know… we’re a few generations down the road, and long forgotten. After all is said and done, I know one thing. I am afraid to die.

With heavy hearts we start our day. Meeting at Kenny’s, we hug and the feeling of sadness is thick. We have hashed and rehashed how we think the conversation will go and how she will take it. Each of us thinking different scenarios, because we each see someone different. She is our mom, and though she raised us with the same values and rules, she had a special way with each of us indiviually. Each child with their own dreams and dramas, their own set of problems and their own relationship with Mom.

We asked Kenny’s wife Tammy to go with us. She and Kenny have been married for 20 years, so she is as much a part of this as we are. When we arrived we peeked through the window of Mom’s room, to see if she was with anyone and she was eating lunch. We decided to let her eat, it’s just not the time to tell her such news. So we sat in a waiting area with some chairs and a tv. We finally get our collective will rolling only to come to a sudden stop! Alot of nervous energy floating around and the waiting was nerve racking, so we decide to go to the cafeteria. This was, by far, the best thing for us… all those butterflies needed calming. And there’s nothing like a snack to take the edge off.

After a bit we headed straight to her. Karen going first she walked right up to Mom and kissed her and hugged her. It took a minute for Mom to realize it was Karen, who had just left to fly home. As we all hug and kiss her the questions begin pouring out… what the hell? We four pull up chairs around the bed and slowly we begin explaining. The flow of conversation was smooth and we laid it all out. She sat and listened and interjected occasionally. And then it was quiet. Only the sound of tissues dabbing wet eyes.

There she sat. She said many things, wanted to know this… wanted to know that. The thing that stands out to me is her courage. She teared up but she didn’t cry. We asked her to think about the options that we presented, that there was no pressure for her to make any quick decisions. We could see that she was running out of steam… so we suggested she rest and we’d be back later.
Hugging and kissing her as we left, I felt my heart heavier now than when we came in. I just kept thinking about how if it were me, how would I handle sitting there thinking about news like this? Would I cry? Would I be angry? Would I be resigned?
We returned later in the evening and she was doing well. Her old spunky self. She asked a few more questions and my heart just broke. With all we presented her, I’m not sure if she is really grasping the gravity of it all. We’ve had a few days to absorb all this information and here we are, watching her weighing her only two options.
I don’t know what’s in store for us as the next few days unfold. I only know that I love her, and I don’t want her to feel the feelings I feel when I think about my own death. I would like to think I have many years left, death is an unknown, but I am not faced with my own immediate demise because my body is failing. I don’t want to her to face this choice at all… she’s my Momma.