We lost our Mother on Friday, December 23. Since December 13th – her condition declined daily. On the 20th, she last enjoyed her morning coffee and danish and got to enjoy sitting on her front porch in the sun one last time.
The next few days are a blur of emotions and events. Visits from Harmony Care Hospice nurse Jenny and all the wonderful people who have helped her. On Wednesday we were told that she was down to a week maybe two, I told the nurse that my husband had said she would not see Christmas and the nurse didn’t comment. My sister got in on Thursday and I was so glad to see her. I had told Momma that Jo was on the way and really wanted to see her (in other words, don’t go dying on me before she got there). Her breathing was getting more and more irregular and she was sleeping all of the time. She would respond when you talked to her although some of what she said was hard to understand. Her strength of will showed because I do not understand how she even managed to respond at this time. I sat with her Thursday morning and just watched her breath and waiting for daylight to come-it seemed like the sun would never rise.
I was looking out her bedroom window toward the tree out in her back yard when I saw a pair of cardinals. Cardinals have a special connection to our family. My Father loved redbirds. He loved to look out the same window and see all the birds at the feeder but his favorite were cardinals. After he died, we carried his love for cardinals forward into our lives. It seems that when we were having a difficult time, we would see a cardinal and it would make things seem so much better and we would not feel as alone. So when I saw the cardinals that morning, I knew that things would be ok, that this probably would be Momma’s last day on earth but it was ok because Daddy was waiting.
She was stable when we took a break to do Christmas errands while her CNA was there to care for her. When I got back my husband was at her bedside and said she was worse. I sat with her and kept talking to her about anything that popped into my mind. She was probably thinking would I please shut up and leave her alone but I had been told that hearing was the last thing to go and I have no problem talking so it was easy to do. I told her Jo was out for a bit and would she please wait for her because I didn’t want to have to explain she died without her. I remember telling her that to put Tom and I out of a job before Christmas was tacky.
My sister got home with lunch and called for us to come eat. But for some reason I looked back at Momma and things were different. I went to Momma and took her hand and called for my sister and my husband. She died with all of us holding her hands and being told she was loved. Well my sister said lots of beautiful things while I cried. My sister wanted to be with her at her time of death and she considered that to be a great honor. Being a coward and terrified of her death, I wished to be anywhere else but I stayed.
I have never witnessed a death before. I knew that my Mother was not going to survive but I feared her death. So afraid she would be scared or in pain. But the drugs kept her free from pain and she went peacefully. Her nurse came by and stayed with us until she had left her home for the last time.
My sister had planned to leave for home at 4 pm on Friday. My Mother died right before 3 pm.