My mother and I have always been close. My father died 30 years ago, leaving Mom on her own. She sold the farm where they had been living and moved into a two bedroom apartment about an hour from my house.
I visited her frequently and she loved seeing her granddaughter. When my daughter was sick, Mom came to take care of her while I went to work.
We were family.
Just over twenty years ago, I was recently divorced and living on my own. Mom had an illness which required surgery and I stayed at her place for a while to take care of her. When I was considering taking a job across the state, I asked if she wanted to move to Tuscaloosa with me.
We ended up renting a house together and we’ve been together ever since.
Even when I remarried, my wonderful wife knew that Mom was part of the deal. In exchange, I had to accept her cat, Helen. Helen died several years later. My mom is dying now.
Mom hasn’t been quick about it though. Her decline has been slow. Over the last 14 months she has almost died several times but she has always sprung back.
We know that someday she won’t, and she knows it too.
Our home is a hospice home. Our lives are blessed by caring nurses and nursing aides from Hospice of West Alabama. We could not have done this without them. Their visits several times each week inform and inspire.
They do things for Mom that Cindy and I are not trained to do. They are experts and a nurse is on-call if needed anytime day or night.
We’ve had some middle-of-the-night and weekend visits from on-call nurses.
It is an unfolding, 24-hour-a-day drama in our home. Mom has coronary artery disease and dementia. She’s had periods of high blood pressure when a heart attack seemed imminent. She’s had difficulty breathing due to fluid in her lungs.
She’s gone for several days at a time without eating and with a respiration rate of only 4 breaths per minute.
She is lucid at times and expresses memories from her past. At other times she doesn’t know where she is, what is going on, or who I am.
When she was released from the hospital, doctors said she could not be expected to live for more than a few weeks. I took off from work and stayed with her. That was over a year ago.
I’ve been back at work some since then, but I have been off to stay with her a lot.
She took care of me when I was a child and couldn’t take care of myself. Now, I’m taking care of her. It’s like I have a sick infant child at home on oxygen, requiring a variety of medications which I must administer through pills, injections, patches, ointments, inhalants, and liquids in medicine droppers.
With a sick child there may be hope of recovery. With Mom we do not have that hope. We have good days and bad days.
Each day is a blessing and God is with us. Slowly, I am ushering her into His hands.