They came at my request. It seems far, far better to me that they spend some time with their Grandma while she is alive, rather than showing up at a memorial service later.
So, "Hotel Thomas," as we nicknamed my mother's upstairs two-bedroom/one bath suite, is now full with the overflow settling into the two downstairs bedrooms, as my brother, Larry, has also flown in from California to stay for a while.
The good cooks at my church had generously responded to a call for food, so I loaded all that up and had filled the refrigerator. Last night, we sat around a packed-out dining table (my daughter-in-law's sister and her husband also joined us), ate good, home-cooked food, and I gloried in family.
I had made a beer and ice cream run for the boys. Two of them live in NYC, and the other in London, England. In neither place is Blue Bell Ice Cream available, so they needed their fix that they can only get here. A friend had supplied a couple of bottles of a pretty darn decent cheap wine available (WalMart brand) so I poured this for the women. And Shawna immediately wailed, "Why don't we have a Walmart in New York! This is amazing!" Later, my brother got his wife and very, very pregnant daughter to connect with us on I-Chat, so we all got to admire Shannon's "baby bulge" and catch up with the two of them. Family at its best.
And mother getting worse. My oldest, Jonathan, had come to see her a week after the stroke, three weeks ago today. Mentally, she was much, much better then than now. This again reminds my of my frustration that someone can come in and pronounce my mother "fine and alert" mentally when we who know her know that she is missing seven beats out of eight. It's just that her eighth beat is still so powerful that only those who know her are aware of the lost seven before it. I had the same problem with my father near the end of his life. These two people had lifelong habits of practicing the life of the mind. Those habits continue to serve them even when they are experiencing almost complete disconnect. Why don't health professionals know this?
We could barely awaken her yesterday. The night before, at the suggestion of our Hospice folks, the night nurse had administered a tiny dose of Lorazepam, because her nights are growing more and more restless. This stuff is supposed to be metabolized in four hours. It took over twenty hours to get it mostly out of Mother's system. That meant that we were essentially unable to get any liquids or semi-solid nourishment in her all day.
I brought with me a copy of the Denton Record Chronicle. I write regularly for them and yesterday's column was about her and her entrance into Hospice care. She said she wanted to read it and asked for her glasses. So I found a pair of reading glasses (as do I, she bought them in bulk and they are scattered all over the house), and put her little tray table in front of her, after raising the head of the bed. She tried to read, this woman who could swallow book after book, and who really did read three newspapers thoroughly each day. She tried, but moments later, she was just staring out the window.
When Jonathan got there, late in the afternoon, she was awake but did not seem to know who he was. When I brought Shawna over to talk with her, Mother thought this was someone she had seen about 50 years ago, but could not access any recent knowledge of her. My mother could not name her own three children to me later. The stroke has caused what I am calling an "instant Alzheimer's" in her.
With all those people at mother's house, I am spending my nights in Krum, where I do sleep marginally better. This afternoon, I have a memorial service at the church where it is my privilege to officiate after the death of what had been our oldest living member (she was 103!), and then I will head back to Richardson for the evening. I neglect things here in favor of caring for things there. In the middle of the night, it just hit me suddenly that I am no longer young, and have almost completely depleted my own energy reserves. I trust God will give strength, but that strength will come if I cooperate with the Spirit of God and get rest. And that's the challenge. I'm feel sometimes that I'm forgetting to breathe these days.