Kelly Clarkson rocks!!
Check out her cover of
Walkin After Midnight.
Patsy Cline is still one of my favorite artists and
Video is no longer up.... if anyone knows where this can be located let me know!!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An unhappy anniversary

The last few days found me in an introspective mood. A great many things ran through my mind and, to be quite honest, many of them are still lingering on the periphery. Kind of like that stray itch you get on the back of your leg while drifting off too sleep. Not enough of a bother to warrant the expenditure of energy to scratch but, just enough to let you know it's there and could develop into a full blown itching fit if you ignore it for too long.

Now let me scratch that itch.

I have been thinking about my mom a lot lately. She died three years ago this month (27th) after a lengthy fight with breast cancer. She was confined to a bed for the last eight months she was with us. My father and I took care of her at home with the help of Hospice. I am not sure what we would have done without them. They took care of the details for us (like getting a hospital bed at the house, medicine, nurses, counselors, and so on), many of which we would have never thought about ourselves. They provided nurses on a daily basis to help with her personal care and to give my father and I a break. While I am not a religious man, by any stretch, all I can say is god bless them.

Mom could not talk at all the last few months she was with us. She could barely move her fingers in the end. She always manged a smile. It often failed to cover up the pain she was in but it helped us cope. She did not want pain medication. She was strong like that.

In the end, she went quietly in her sleep. I still remember that day.

I had gotten off work at 6:30 in the morning, gone home and taken a shower. Mom was having a bad morning already and dad had called Hospice for help. They sent several people, one of which was a wonderful nurse/administrator. I really do wish I could remember her name. She came out and first off got Mom calmed down. She spoke to my father and I. She told us that it was close to that time, just that mom would not let go. She also asked if any of us had told her it was ok to let go.

We had not.

She explained that in these situations, sometimes, the patients try to stay for their loved ones and will continue to fight. The nurse also explained that it is not at all unusual, once they are told it's ok, for patients to relax and allow nature to takes it's course very soon after. I suppose my father and I both must have looked dumbfounded because she went on to explain the situation a little better for us.

Mom was in the last stage, her body was trying to let go. She could be gone as soon at 24 hours, based on her prior experience in these situations. The cancer was all through her body (brain, lymph system, bones, lungs, breasts, and so on) and it was trying to shut her down. The only thing stopping it was her sheer force of will. She was in pain, a lot of it. I seem to recall she used the word agony. Judging by how worked up mom was, this made perfect sense. She suggested some morphine to ease her suffering.

This was something mom did not want. We also wanted to respect her wishes but at the same time we did not want her in pain. That is no way for anyone to live. Dad agreed and I deferred to him. When we went in to give her the shot you could see the pain she was going through in her face. The nurse explained what we were doing to mom. She gave her the shot, lightly brushed a tear off moms cheek and told her it was ok to let go. Mom just looked up at her. The nurse stayed with her and held her hand until she fell asleep.

In the adjacent room, she explained to dad how to give her the shots and that she should get one about every six hours, or as needed for pain. She promised to be back the next day to check in and gave dad her card and private number. After the hospice people left dad and I went and sat on the back porch to talk. Well, that is a bit misleading. We more or less sat smoking our cigarettes and staring out into the back yard. By now it was about 10 in the morning.

Dad told me to go get some sleep. I told him there was no way I could go to sleep right now, despite the fact I had been awake since the previous day at about 1pm. I told him I was going in to town to get a drink and to call me if he needed anything.

I did go get a drink.... several of them in fact. Tequila. That was my drink of choice at the time. I didn't get totaled. I still had to drive. I sat and talked with some friends. By the time I got back home it was nearing 5pm. I was so tired my vision was going all wonky.

I checked in with dad. Mom was sleeping peacefully. To be honest it was probably the first time she had done that since before she was confined to the bed. I told dad I was going to get some sleep and to wake me if he needed anything.

Dad woke me up at about 7. I was still out of it. He told me mom was gone. Still half asleep, I asked him where she went. He just looked at me blankly and said she was gone again. This time I picked up the tone of his voice and I sat straight up on bed. The weight of those words smacked me square in the chest like a hammer and took my breath away. Dad was already out of the room heading back to the front of the house.

I jumped up and went to the living room and checked. She wasn't breathing. Dad was sitting at the dinging room table looking in at me. I asked him when. He said he wasn't sure. The last time he had checked in on her was about 4pm to see if she needed another shot. He said she was sleeping quietly and opted to let her sleep instead of giving her another shot. He went back to check on her just before he woke me. He was crying at this point and I did not want to press it. He had been through enough. We all had.

So mom passed. Quiet, comfortable, and asleep in her own home. That was all she wanted in the end. To be at home with her family. She will always be.

I miss you mom.


Rae said...

That is a moving story. Your mother would be very proud of you in your ability to write it so well. I think it helps to share your feelings. I was a hospice nurse for 10 years so understand much of what you are saying. I wish you the best on this very difficult anniversary.

Kelli said...

I am so glad you were able to write your feelings and relate your Mom's passing.
I understand. I have cared for my Mom, Dad and brother until the end.
Your Mom was so fortunate to have you and your Dad.

Weeble Girl said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It was very moving and expresses your love for your mom.

Thank goodness for hospice.

Have Myelin? said...

You did the right thing. Hugs.

sweaty hermit said...

my heart goes out to you.