My Mother's home-going.
I have traveled South by train to be with Dad and my brother John and his family who are already together because they have lived close for a long time. By the time I get there Mom, who continues at home with Dad in their senior care apartment, is no longer moving on her own, talking or eating. Only once more does she wish to try sitting up but she is not strong enough to hold herself upright. John just holds her. Then Dad supports and holds her for a few minutes. Her body is too heavy for her strength. John gently lays her back down where she remains.
I can tell you that it is so out of character for my mother to be lying so still and heavy on the bed. Not talking or planning, knitting or reading. Completely still and mute with eyes closed, just breathing. Her body is dense and so heavy. (I wonder if her spirit is the only thing that has buoyed her.) And yet she slowly breaths, in and out, her chest lifting and lowering with each new breath, the oxygen machine sighing and humming in the background. ( This machine, we are assured is not forcing her breathing; just giving her extra oxygen. Only a "comfort measure".)
One night of our vigil I sleep in the recliner next to her and extend my arm so that my hand is just under her chin feeling her breath on the back of my hand and her mouth slightly opening and closing as she draws each breath. I find it less stressful than attempting to find the faint, thready pulse in her wrist whenever I wake in the dark. Dad lies next to her and sleeps as well as can be expected. (He's definitely not been getting his full 8 lately.)At times John holds this bedside vigil and I sleep on the couch in the living room of Mom and Dad's small apartment.
We monitor pain meds, trying to keep her comfortable, adjusting her position with help from the staff. We confer with Hospice nurses who are so dear and helpful. John sets up his Ipad with music which she loves, playing softly next to her pillow.
This way we wait almost a week, always sure she can't last another day, night or even hour. We know she is slipping away and we start to morn her loss even while she still lives. Dad and I start searching for photos on his computer that he has scanned of their 67 years together. Interesting, full, busy years spent all over the world. We're looking for pictures of Mom that we will want for a slide show. There are so many good ones. Going way back. Doing all the things she loved with her beloved children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Just having this task is amazingly therapeutic.
If you knew her you know she was always such a woman of action, busy within her life wherever it took her. So many places, meeting so many people, never timid of new things. Always gardening, planning a meal, sewing, or knitting. And everything had potential and was saved. If she had dirt and water she could grow anything. If she had ingredients she could bake anything. She despised being idle, hardly sitting down all day. Tending her large garden, fixing something special for dinner or dessert. If she did need to sit she'd choose to knit while others talked, or while riding in a car, or whenever the TV was on. She produced so many lovely things this way.
She passes away on Friday morning.
She will be so very missed by us all. Many came for her funeral, from far and near and we saw family and friends not seen in a very long time. We all know she's in a better place, without pain, loving and seeing loved ones who have gone before. This thought makes heaven more real.