This has become a funny time of year for me. Certainly I am all over a new year, blank pages, calendar yet to be filled with interesting and enjoyable pursuits. Delight in it all in fact! Today though is also the last full day my mom walked this earth. She died 5 years ago tomorrow most uncomfortably waiting for her attending doctor for hours. It still fills me with horrors! This missive is not what this is about .....
For a good number of years I was on my mom to organize her affairs. There were many loose ends. I had friends who had a nightmare navigating their last parent's affairs. Had wanted to avoid this with mom. My frequently expressed comment to her was "You'll not get an engraved invitation (about when you'll die)." It was said jokingly and she would laugh. Not that it budged her for a good many years. My frustration was why can't she see something could happen at any time!
Mom's landing in Emergency New Year's Eve didn't set off any huge alarms. A cold had affected her bad lungs. It was in ER we found out she had quit taking her pills. Her blood pressure was through the roof. We could see she wasn't feeling well Christmas Day but at 88 and a half this happened periodically. Mom was contrite about the medications and was quite clear on her medical directives. She did want issues to be investigated but we danced around full on resuscitation. Mom had a cancer, albeit slow growing, COPD, a heart arrhythmia, severe arthritis and her mind sharp. Okay.
January 1st she had all the family come up on their way to dinner at our house. The next day when we visited we were told her blood pressure was under control and she'd be going home Friday, 2 days hence. Great! I started making plans to get her place ready for her return to her assisted living apartment. Mom was exhausted from not sleeping well in a 4 bed ward and was still having stomach discomfort. She just wanted to rest. So we left her to do so. The disconnect between the cheery report on how well she was doing and how my mom really seemed blew right over my head. She was coming home. Of course she was. Mom was strong and a fighter!
The next day more family and friends were scheduled to visit. Their reports said she was so very very sick. My brother, bless him, got up there at noon. With texts back and forth told me mom was quite unsettled but the doc would be there any time. I felt a need to get up to the hospital but not anxious. Carl was there and the Dr. coming! Finishing some appointments I headed up around 2:00 PM. This was one sick lady. A huge flu outbreak was keeping all sorts of doc and interns busy in emergency. The hours passed trying to make her comfortable. My mom then had a stroke. Our family gathered. Despite pleas and demands for her doc, no sign. The helplessness and frustration overwhelming. At one poignant moment I seemed to step out of my body. I came to 'see' that nothing we could, would do would change the course of what was to happen. It was set in motion. Mom would die. I was shocked out of my denial and utterly blown away. She did die, peacefully, shortly after finally receiving medication for her pain. We were numb.
Time shifts some, though not all the pain around this. Mom did had a good run and was happy in her later years. That's a comfort. The ultimate irony though? After years of telling mom she wouldn't get an engraved invitation announcing when she would die, either did I.