Saturday, July 12, 2014

Life's Journey

So whoever regularly reads my blog probably has noticed that I have been missing in action for the last couple weeks.  So this is catch- up time and a card that got lost in the whirl wind (spoiler alert, you will probably need a tissue).

For those who don't personally know me, my mom was diagnosed back in December with congestive heart failure. She was 83 and her lungs had been filling up with fluid since about Thanksgiving.  I convinced her to go to the hospital where they made the diagnosis, put her on some good medications and within a few weeks she was feeling better.  Her color was good, her chest wasn't rattling she was walking around, a little weak, but still up and at 'em (well, at least as well as an 83 year old could be).  Here is a picture of her and my dad from Christmas.

Ain't she just the cutest?

Over the next several months however, mom became weaker and weaker and shortly after her 84th birthday in February, she became almost completely bed bound and dependent on oxygen.  She took all her meals in her bed and only got up to walk to the bathroom and to sit for a little while in the chair in her bedroom.  She kept her spirits up as much as possible, but by Easter she was angry, depressed and lonely.  I would go visit her as much as I could and spent hours in the chair in her bedroom just "being" with her.  Eventually we had to hire a home health aide for a few hours a day.  It was good companionship for my mom and gave a much needed break to my dad who, at 84, was her primary caretaker.  However, every day she became weaker and more frail.

Late June my family and I went to my mom’s house for an overnight visit on our way to the beach, however, that night and she took a turn for the worse. She became unresponsive and we called the family together.  We spent the night by her side, keeping vigil.  At one point my niece was sitting on the bed between my mother and my father and took this picture.  This is what over 60 years of marriage looks like.

The next morning my mother awoke as if nothing happened and asked for her breakfast. She had no memories of the night before, didn't remember the paramedics and police in her bedroom didn't know that the family had spent hours by her bed, she just wanted her toast.

That day I worked with my dad to set up hospice care.  We knew how this was going to end, and we needed to make mom and dad as comfortable as possible. We met with nurses, social workers, and aides that next day.  There is a special place in heaven for hospice workers as one was nicer than the next.  I knew mom and dad were in good hands when I left to return to PA on June 19th.  I gave my mom a big kiss, told her I loved her and said I'd be back the following week.

Little did I know that was the last time I would see her.  On the morning of June 27th my brother called me to tell me that my mom had passed in her sleep.  I was devastated.  My mom was my best friend and my confidant.  Not a day went by that I didn't call her, most days several times.  The last few weeks have been a blur to me, but there is one thing that has stood out, and that is the amount of love and support that I have been surrounded with by my family, my friends, my community, my co-workers.  I am blessed.  The journey without my mom will be hard, but I know that I will make it with the help of many.  This card is dedicated to all of you who have prayed for me and my family, hugged us, cooked for us, made us laugh, let us cry or just kept us in your thoughts.  I appreciate each and every one of you.  

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