Showing posts with label death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label death. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It's Been A Tough Week

          A week ago yesterday mom
was discharged from the hospital
A week ago yesterday I
drove her home – her actual house. 
She wanted me to take her
to the one in her mind.

A week ago yesterday I drove
her to my house where we waited
for Nate (my nephew) to come
get her and take her
to her real home. 

A week ago she was
still distorted and not
satisfied with where she was.

A week ago today my
brother Patrick and his son-in-law
Nate moved some of mom’s furniture. 
A week ago today my sister-in-law
Sunny and our friend Becky
helped pack clothes.

A week ago today
unbeknownst to my mom,
she spent her last day
in the house where she started
a new life with dad and raised all
four of her children.

A week ago today my
sister Kayla took my mom
to the doctor. 
A week ago today, Patrick and
Sunny and their daughter Ellen
rearranged mom’s furniture and
decorated her walls.  

A week ago today Kayla drove mom
from the doctor’s office to what
appears to be her permanent home. 
A week ago today (well tonight) mom
spent her first night in
the assisted living community.

A week ago tomorrow my
brother Corey arrived at Salt Lake airport.
A week ago tomorrow Sunny picked
him up from the airport and
drove him to the house where
he had been raised. 

A week ago tomorrow my
mother received visits from each
of her kids and some
of the grandchildren.
A week ago today mom expressed
to each of us that she didn’t/doesn’t
want to stay and for her desire for
each of us to take her home.

There are photos taped around
the mirror. Mom had taped them
there herself.  They are her photos. She
has fond memories of each one –
perhaps some more than others.  Some
of them have been removed. She has
taken them off the mirror and put
them into her purse so that she will
have them when she gets to leave –
and return to the house that exists in
her mind but doesn’t
have an address for.  

Yesterday Corey cancelled his
flight and rented a truck

Today he'll pick up the truck and
fill it with things  that are his as
well as my moms.

Tomorrow he will drive
back to Las Vegas


Monday, June 18, 2012

Understanding Death

          Many people are upset by death or have a lack of understanding.  It’s really hard when it is children whose lives have been claimed before they have much of an opportunity to live.  Or a young parent with children still in diapers.

          Many believe that death is the end.  It is when the Spirit no longer needs the body.  Death is the end of mortality – but not the end of existing on earth in a human sense.  The Spirit lives on and has the opportunity to reunite with loved ones who have already passed on.

          Roland started off last month attending his sister’s funeral.  Her death was very unexpected – but I’ve learned to handle sudden death rather graciously, I think.  I have seen too many spend their last years dying – and that, for me personally, is a lot more difficult to handle.

          Roland said the priest had a thick Jamaican accent and was hard to understand.  He did turn the time over to the family members who wished to say something.  Roland, of course, jumped at the opportunity and explained the spirit world to his family and defined his sister’s whereabouts – how she is now reunited with their father, her husband, her youngest daughter and countless others who have passed before her.  
          I would have taken the opportunity also – had I been there.  Jenna had already missed two days of school when we had gone down for the party.  I couldn’t risk three more, could I?

          As it turned out, Jenna was throwing up the night before.  With her sensitive stomach she does NOT do well in the car.  I doubt we would have even made it out of the city. 
          Roland can make it to his family’s house in about 12 hours when he is by himself – but when Jenna and I are with him, there are more stops required which have added two to four hours to his time. 

          I would rather deal with death than deterioration whether of the mind or the body – or both.  My dad’s mind was very sharp and alert – up until his dying day.  But not everybody saw that.

          After the strokes robbed him of being able to use his muscles, his brain would tell his mouth what to say but it was slurred – hard to understand for most.  And so many thought he had lost his mind as well.  But he knew fully well what was taking place.  It must have been so frustrating Not to communicate that.

          And I know dad is not alone.  There are many who are robbed of health physically.  And even though their minds may be active, their thoughts are not always conveyed – and that hurts.

          And then there’s my mom – whose mind seems to be going before her body does.  And because she forgets, she also neglects her physical health.  Either way seems to be a raw deal.  But I don’t always think of death as a raw deal – but sometimes the way one dies is unbearable and often too hard to think about.

          Roland’s sister went quickly.  There was little suffering on her part.  Her daughter had a really hard time with it.  I don’t think she would if she understood that this earth life is just a test.  It is where we do things with physical bodies that a spirit by itself cannot do.  But we only have these bodies on borrowed time.  The spirit lives on.  So people don’t really die – they’re just separated from bodies they don’t need any more. 

Those who have touched so many lives live in our memories and are shared with others through words, through books, through the Internet.  Those who have made such impact and impression never really die.  We know their names.  We have their histories.  They are a part of us.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

If He’s Just Going to Die Anyway . . .

My dad had had a series of strokes later in life.  Some of them were so “small” that they went undetected.  The first one I remember had temporarily paralyzed the left side of his jaw.  Not realizing the magnitude of what was happening, we made jokes about it.

Because he was such a quiet man, we commented that his jaw was sliding off his face as he never used it. It eventually returned to his normal appearance.  It wasn’t until later on that we learned his downward jaw had been the result of one of the strokes he had had.

Dad started keeping odd hours.  He’d be awake while the rest of us were asleep and vise-versa.  He was in need of care 24-7 and it became too overwhelming at times.  We were told that the insurance he had would not cover a live-in aide – but they did have a list of nursing homes.  We did our best to avoid it, but it finally got to the point that we needed assistance.  I don’t know how we ended up with the facility that we did.  It was depressing.

He actually had strength left in his hands as he would hang on for dear life to any person who would assist him in walking out to the car or whatever.  We called it “the death grip”.  I would always stop in our tracks and tell him, “If you would like to continue moving, you will have to ease up on your grip because you are hurting me!” 

He’d laugh and his juices would come out and he’d start to drool. It was painful watching him go downhill.

We took my dad to therapy.  He was a favorite patient as he was very cooperative to do everything he was told. Except for one time when my mom took him out of bed and tried walking with him and decided to put him back before someone came in and caught them doing something that they weren’t supposed to do.

Mom would push on one side and race around the bed to pull him.  He laughed while she frantically moved from one side to the other saying, “Someone is coming. I don’t even know if we were suppose to get you out of bed”

Mom had done therapy with him.  They were both quite worn out when an orderly came in and brightly asked, “Are you ready for physical therapy?”

Mom looked at dad and nodded “yes” while he shook his head “No”.

Because the muscles in his mouth weren’t working the way they should, it became difficult to swallow anything.  We started out with thick juices and nectars to a no liquid restriction. He was given wet sponges to suck on in order to quench his thirst.

Each stroke left him paralyzed just a little bit more. He walked with a cane.  His speech became difficult to understand.  So difficult that many didn’t realize he still had the ability to think and still had a sharp mind. 

One time my brother’s family brought to him a vase of flowers.  When he was alone in the room, he removed the flowers and drank the water from the vase.  My sister-in-law was upset.  She said she hadn’t even cleaned the vase all that well, and would have done a better job had she known.  It was dirty water.  He was desperately thirsty though.

He would get out of bed and fall and was restrained and would cry that he was being tied up.  And we would cry with him.  Sometimes we would loosen the bands and then report our deeds to the nurse. 

I really don’t remember how long he’d been there.  But the insurance company gave us a deadline for when they would no longer supply payment for keeping him there. Eleven days before the deadline he had another stroke.  An ambulance took him to the hospital that was near the house of my family.  Someone went to see him every day.

We were able to teach him some finger spelling – which of course came slow.  And if we asked a question that wasn’t a “yes” or “no” question – it became quite a game to figure out the answer.

One time my mom went up to one of the members of the Church to thank him for visiting my dad.  He was taken aback and asked sincerely, “How did you know that?”
“He told me.”
“He told you?”
“But when I saw him . . . I didn’t know he could . . . How did he tell you?”

Dad loved chocolate milk shakes and hamburgers.  He had been hooked up to a feeding tube.  Daddy had already lost so much weight.  His legs were thin – like arms. He still had tastable desires.

Once my mom asked, “If he’s just going to die anyway, what difference does it make whether we give him a milk shake or not.”

The comment brought on some cold hearted stares, but seeing the sadness in mom’s eyes, they knew she was right.  It was highly probable that he would not be leaving the hospital alive.  And he did get at least two milk shakes out of the deal.

My dad never returned to the nursing home.  He spent his 54th birthday in the hospital – he was laid to rest a month later. He’d been released from his physical body.  He had endured to the end.  And he hadn’t complained.  How amazing is that?

It was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining.  My brother, Patrick, and I both gave talks. We played a recording of Corey reading his poem (as he was on his mission at the time) and my sister, Kayla sang Amy Grant’s “Father’s Eyes”  It was a really nice tribute.  I miss my dad.  I think of him quite a bit on really awesome days that take place in the fall.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My First Pregnancy

         When our boys were 12, 13, and 15 I got pregnant.  I know the exact date, too.  Memorial weekend – May 28, 2002.  Only I didn’t know I was pregnant.  And I didn’t figure out until just before my child was aborted.  I still cry about it.
          It was the 11th of July (I believe) when I’d gone upstairs to use the only toilet in our house.  Sharp pains I’d never felt before.  I didn’t know why.  At first I tried to ignore it.  I went back downstairs to lie beside my husband.  No – I was in pain.  I went back into the bathroom – but it wasn’t a throwing up pain.  It was different.  I can’t remember what it felt like now – I had never experienced pain like that before or since.  It wasn’t until later – much later – that I learned my belly had been filling with blood

My husband shot out of bed and announced he’d take me to the hospital.  That was a little dramatic I thought – I didn’t understand until much later on why he had responded that way.  The boys’ mother had told him she hadn’t felt well.  He dismissed the idea and she lay down and never woke up.  She died of heart failure.

There’s really not too much about that night that I actually remember.  I remember checking in.  I remember receiving an ultrasound and listening to the heart beat.  I remember being told to move myself from the gurney to the operating table.  That’s actually the last thing that I remember.  Being told.  Whether I actually moved on my own or not remains a mystery. I don’t know what kind of drugs were used on me, but I was gone.  I was in and out.  I don’t even know how long I was in the hospital.  At least two or three days.  I felt like I was in a coma for two weeks.

There were needles stuck in both of my arms.  My right arm was hooked up to IV.  My left arm?  That needle wasn’t connected to anything.  It was just there.  I remember wondering why.  I would think I’d ask.  But then I would forget about it. 

Upon my release I was given a wheel chair.  I’m assuming that I somehow managed to sit in it myself – though I don’t remember.  I do remember the nurse bending down just before I was wheeled out of my room.

“Almost forgot,” he said as he bent down to remove the needle that had been pushed into my left arm.
Oh, yes.  I had forgotten about it myself – many times. 
“What’s that for anyway?”  I asked, still feeling the sensation of the drugs that were in me.

I don’t know how slurred I was or if I sounded slurred at all. He answered, “That was in case you needed a blood transfusion”

A blood transfusion?  That sounded serious.  But I was so drugged up I just let it sink in and didn’t question it any further.

I had an appointment to go back and see the doctor.  I don’t know if it was during those two weeks or if it was right after.  I was alert enough to know I shouldn’t be driving.

My sister-in-law kept asking me questions.  They were all good questions but I didn’t have answers.  I selected her to come get me and take me to the doctor and then she could ask him all the questions as I suspected he would probably have the answers – obviously more answers than I could provide.

I learned that if we had waited another hour (before going to the hospital the day of the unusual pain) that I might have bled to death.  Wow.  So that’s why I needed a transfusion.  She asked another question (actually lots of questions – that’s actually the only one I remember) My doctor turned to me and asked if I didn’t remember.

“I was kind of out of it,” I confessed – still in a fog from whatever medication was in my system.

“Yes you were!” he said matter-of-factly embarrassed about having even asked me if I remembered.

Chicken Soup for the Soul had sent me a manuscript about the mature women.  One section contained stories about older women giving birth.  I could relate to some story beginnings and wept for our unborn child.   

Roland thought we should give her/him a name.  Not knowing the sex of our unborn baby, we named her/him Tracy.