Ooooh Lordy. Where to begin?
Since my last post about the summer of 2015 so much has changed.
As I was starting what I thought was my last MBA course, my mom’s health and home situation began to deteriorate quickly. Mom had been dealing with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for 15 years and she made the decision in August to stop treatment as it was no longer working – only traumatizing her body further. My 86 year-old step-dad wasn’t able to provide the care Mom needed as her health and abilities to look after herself (and him) became compromised so I did the only thing I knew how to make the best out of a terrible situation – I offered to look after Mom at my house till the disease ran its course.
Thankfully, everyone, including my step-dad, was in agreement that this was the course to be followed and Mom’s (now palliative) care was transferred, along with some furniture and belongings, from her condo to my house.
I realized that continuing on with the double credit intensive course (including a week away in residence) to complete my masters degree was impossible with what was going on at home. Arrangements were made to drop this course and take instead 2 single credit courses for completion of degree requirements. (So now I am still graduating in June, but remain in school until the end of February.)
After consultations with my two sisters about Mom coming to live with me it was decided that one of my sisters (working, with a company that would top up the leave payments) would take compassionate leave initially to stay with me and Mom so I could continue working, and the other (non-working, living across the country) would fly in when needed.
The next 3 months became one of the most wonderful, terrible times of my life. Wonderful in that my home became what I had envisioned it to be – the hub of family life. It was a warm, roomy space for others to gather to celebrate my mom and her life as it slowly drained out of her. Wonderful in that for the first time since August 1980 all of my siblings and I were under one roof again, this time really getting to know each other as adults. Wonderful in that I had many hours to spend in my mother’s company, and many opportunities to tell and show her how much she was loved and appreciated. Wonderful in that I was able to visit with and accommodate my aunt from the Netherlands, who came over to spend 3 weeks with her eldest sister. Wonderful in that we were able to give my mother so much peace and happiness in the final months, weeks, and days of her life.
Well, as to the terrible part – do I really need to explain how terrible it is to see your mother’s life dwindle inevitably down? Week by week, day by day and later hour by hour – from an active, vibrant woman to one who relies on a cane, then a wheelchair and walker, then finally to be completely immobilized. One whose world shrunk from her community to her home, then to my home, then to just a hospital bed in one room in that home.
Mom passed away in the wee hours of December 18th. She did not fear her death, as the life she was living was no longer any life at all. Death HAD to be a better alternative. Mom got her wishes – that she die at home, and that her death would not interfere with the plans of Mizz J and I to attend a wedding in Barbados on January 2nd (booked 9 months ago, with insurance…just in case)….that was so “Mom” – putting others’ agendas ahead of her own, even to the end!
And so ended this year, 2015, of loss for me and my family. Starting with my dog of almost 15 years, in January; then my father-in-law in February; my best friend’s mother in March; and finally my own mother in December.
So glad to see this year come to an end. 2016, if you are listening, I am asking for the shadow of death to avoid me and mine for a change, for a respite (however brief) from loss, and for a year of growth and celebration instead. Thanks in advance!