Mom passed this year. Complications of several illnesses that ganged up on her.
She was never a good patient in the best of circumstances, but you can imagine that when she felt as poorly as she did .. well …
We had a number of visits during the illness .. far too few, of course:
- The first, right after diagnosis: high spirits, but physically miserable.
- Soon after: death warmed over until a day after I arrived, and then bounced back. What the hell?
- About a month before: she bounced back so much that she was out and about. This visit (with the children) coincided her best-to-date. She’d felt so good she spent half the day prior at Wal-Mart, panicking Marvin and Gini.
This last trip was .. different. She’d been re-admitted for pneumonia a few days prior to Mother’s day .. as an aside, I called her and joked that she didn’t have to check herself into the hospital to avoid a visit from us. I said “she was so fearful the kids would visit ..”
Bollocks, of course. A few days later, I called her again. Same joke, but her condition had worsened.
A successful surgery the Saturday prior to remove a chunk of highly-infected tissue .. but she didn’t come out of it by any standard of living. By the time I saw her the following Wednesday, she hadn’t eaten since her surgery. She didn’t recognize Marvin, Gini or me. Her body was still alive, but that which was her, was not.
Marvin and Gini had hung in the hospital for days. Every visit, watching, comforting, coaching. Urging her to go on. That her time had come.
She didn’t know they were there.
I got the call the morning before. First from Marvin, then from Gini. It was time. I drove to Kennewick that afternoon.
It would happen that night or shortly thereafter. Her heart rate was at aerobic levels. Her lungs at only a few percent of capacity, her ‘wakings’ (such as they were): delirious.
On the last night, I arrived with Marvin and Gini still there. Mom would wake up now and again that night, agitated and in unbearable pain. Marvin and I spoke with the doctor one last time, arriving at the last, and best course of action. Marvin and Gini had already made their peace.
When they went home, I stayed a few hours longer to make mine. I stayed until they administered the final drip. I comforted her just one last time.
Just before she fell asleep for the last time that I saw her, she repeated an action she’d done over the past week: she tried to sit up. She held her arms out. She called for her mom ..
.. I knew exactly how she felt.