loracs: (Default)
 September 25, 2000 was the last day I touched my mother.  The metric of time melts away, as I sit here today, remembering.  I can see the hospital room, I can hear the shuffle of feet in the hallway, the background smell of disinfectant, the sponges on a stick used to moisturize her lips and mouth.   The dry texture of her skin is both familiar and alien.  The cancer induced weight loss has left her skin loosely draped around her frame.  I sit next to her for hours, my freckled hand resting on her freckled arm – our shared “deformity”.  The intermittent, but necessary intrusion of the nursing staff; they don’t come often and I take this to mean she is close to dying.  Vital signs aren’t really important at this point.  They check to make sure everything is okay with her iv line – the morphine drip keeping her out of pain, or so we hope, as she mostly sleeps.  I think they also are checking on us, her watching and waiting daughters. 

While she no longer has the strength to speak, she knows we are there.  Her eyes, brown and deep set have always been framed by glasses.  I don’t remember a time when she didn’t wear them. I’ve seen pictures of when she was young and I’m always taken aback by the lack of glasses on her face.  Now she opens her eyes wide and we get very close to her, so she can see us.  As her eyes focus on our faces, she smiles weakly. I see her through teary eyes.   I hear her voice in my head, “Don’t cry”.  This is what she would say to me, whenever the subject of her death came up in our weekly phone calls.  I’d get quiet and she’d say “Are you crying?”  No, I’d say, in a voice full of tears.  In her calm Mom voice, she’d say “Don’t cry”.  It always made me cry harder, just like I am doing now. 

After days of keeping a family member in the room with 24/7, she took the 10 minutes when my sister and I stepped out to go to the cafeteria, to take her last breath.  Coincidence or did she bestow on us her last motherly protection? We have no memory of watching her take her last gasping breath.  There was no dashing into the hallway, calling for a nurse.  Did she open her eyes on last time?  Was there pain in those last seconds?  All of that has to be left to our imagination, our final memories only include the appearance of her gently sleeping.   I prefer to think of it as one last gift she gave us.      

Yesterday

Apr. 8th, 2008 12:15 am
loracs: (Sunset)

April 7, 1994 my father was taken by ambulance to the hospital.  For some reason, maybe a small stroke, my father did not get out of bed for two days.  He was an alcoholic and 48 hours without a drink threw his body into delirium tremens.  When he couldn't get out of bed without falling and he was incoherent, my mother reluctantly called my sister and 911, in that order.  Later that day my sister called to say he was in the hospital and they weren't sure what was wrong yet.  That night my mother, for the first time in 38 years, slept alone in the house.  No children, no husband, not even a dog.  Worried as she must have been about my father, I wonder if this was the first time in all those years that she slept, really slept.  She didn't have to listen for the floor squeaks and the bathroom door shutting, as a child or a husband was up in the middle of the night, possibly sick, needing her help.  She didn't have to worry about my father getting up in the middle of the night to smoke a cigarette and starting a fire.  They hadn't slept in the same room since shortly after I moved out in 1981; my mom bought a new bed and moved into my old room.  

My father never returned home.  While his body healed, his mind never returned to a functional state.  He went from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility, where he died on Feb. 17, 1999.  No matter how disoriented he was when my mother visited him, she still spoke to me as if he might be coming home.  It took more than four years to convince her it was okay to sell his truck and put  the farm up for sale.  She needed the money.  She still had hope (or was it fear) that my father might yet come back to himself and he would be so angry with her.  Selling HIS truck, selling HIS farm, she was sure he would leave her.  It took four years of visiting him and seeing only deterioration before she finally agreed to put it on the market.  

I started this with the intention of writing more about how my father might have felt leaving his home under duress; instead I could only think of my mother's feelings  The brain is a tricky thing, taking me away from where I didn't want to go, even when I thought I did.

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