Thursday, November 7, 2013

Really, G'ma?

I've been preparing myself for the end for a week or two.  She was pale, she wasn't eating, she was rarely awake. Her back hurt, though the x-ray showed no damage.  Never exceptionally energetic, her condition made listless look perky. As the gerontologist said, she was beginning to fade away.

I sat and watched her sleep. I rubbed her feet. I snuggled up close to her in her bed, gently resting my hand on her shoulder.  She doesn't like back-rubs, so I resisted the urge to touch more of her. I wanted her to feel the connection, though, to know that I was there even as she rested with her eyes closed.

I was getting ready to let her go. I wasn't surprised that she was ready to leave.  Everyone is dead, or lost in the fog of senility. Food - even chocolate - held no allure.  She didn't want the television turned on.  She just wanted to lie in bed.  She was checking out of this life, moving on to another, better, place.... at least that was what I saw.

The blood work results came back on Monday; there was an infection and an antibiotic would be prescribed.  Her end of life plan includes medications but no procedures (beyond podiatry... we don't skip those Medicare provided pedicures...even if nail polish is not included). I approved the prescription, because I'm not ready to take active steps to end her life. She doesn't mind swallowing pills, as long as the caregiver announces their purpose. There was no reason not to medicate her.

The vicodin was masking the pain, but turning her in bed or helping her up from her chair still led to complaints.  When she hurts, she doesn't want to move. Since she never really wanted to move in the first place, even without pain, there wasn't much difference in her behavior. It was in her eyes and in her affect that I saw the change.  There was very little spark left.

It was sad. I moped a lot. I found myself staring off at the clouds, thinking back to childhood memories and caching them for the future. I was preparing myself for funerals and family. I was making a mental list of what to cancel, who to call, when to pack.  I was not going to be caught unawares.  G'ma was giving me plenty of time to get organized.  I thanked her for her consideration.

I had moved beyond sad and into containment mode. I was ready to deal with being an orphan. And then I went to see her yesterday morning.

She was sitting up in her chair, eyes open,watching TNT. She smiled and her eyes twinkled and she reached her hand up to grab mine.  "Look who's here! Hello, sweetheart! What brings you here this morning?"

All I could do was laugh.

"What's so funny?  Did I make a joke?"

"Mom, you were at death's door for a week.  Now you are acting as if nothing happened.  I'm just surprised, is all."

The look on her face was priceless.  Quizzical and delighted all at the same time.  She'd flummoxed her oldest child, and that always made her feel smart. She'd escaped from the jaws of the unknown, and that was a good thing.  She had no memory of languishing. In the here and now, she was fine and I was laughing. Life, as she knew it, was good.

What was my problem? Why was I so peeved?  I really couldn't say.

All that preparation for nothing.  All that worry and sorrow wasted.  I couldn't know then, but I do know now, that I wasn't ready to let go at all.  I want her to know that Princess Myrtle is leaving Asia for California. I want her to meet the dog we may be adopting. I'd like to have her at the Stroll and Roll and Thanksgiving Dinner and there's no reason she can't be.

The woman refuses to die.  I couldn't be happier.


  1. I'm so happy for you and G'ma. Having lost my precious mother a few months ago, I can attest to the fact that each and every moment is one to be treasured, and I'm not sure a daughter can ever be prepared to let go. May she continue to flummox her oldest child!
    Hugs to you both.

  2. Yay, G'ma! and yay for you. Even though you think you are prepared to lose your last surviving parent, you never really are. I was so sad reading your post. Then all smiles. Good for G'ma........She got cha. Love you both :)


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