It made no sense. On that day, Mother was talkative, pretty alert, and more awake than we had seen her. My brother commented, "She'll probably live another year!" Yet I couldn't shake it.
This past weekend has been fun and full of family. The house bulged with granchildren and a couple of her great-grandchildren. Clearly, as little as Mother often seemed to comprehend who was who, she also liked seeing them. We often held Kate up to talk with her. Kate, three years old, looks very, very much like my mother: same inquiring blue eyes, same thoughtful expression, and, as someone said today, "from the eyes up, they are clones of each other." We talked, ate, played games, relaxed together.
One son flew out Sunday, another this evening. I plan to take the third, along with his wife and two children, to the airport in the morning.
But my own tears were unstoppable today. I kept thinking it was just the exhaustion. But this sense of loss pushed at me. Grief and anguish sat beside me.
I had noticed a disturbing change in Mother earlier today. She became extremely restless, and expressed significant discomfort. Rarely has she even mentioned physical discomfort, although we knew she was beginning to feel some. I offered her pain relief, and she indicated she would like it: very much not her usual response. Shortly after I gave her a small dose, the hospice care-giver showed up and gave her a good bath--mother's great pleasure for the day. She clearly felt better afterward, and then fell into a long and very peaceful sleep.
But 20 extra years settled on her face. My sister and I both remarked how much she looked like her own mother shortly before her death.
I left around 6:30 p.m. not even sure I had the energy for the 50 mile drive home but knowing that if I didn't leave then, I would never make it.
By 9:00, I was in bed, and asleep about one minute afterward.
At 10:25, my phone rang. My brother said, "Just wanted you to know: something just happened to Mother." The night nurse, Suerea, (our treasure: every one of us who is there breathes a daily sigh of relief when she walks in) arrived and Mother, refreshed after her long afternoon's deep sleep, greeted her with "You work too hard!" Suerea and Larry began to work on getting some liquids down her and a bit of food, since she'd had little that day.
Then, according to Larry, her eyes rolled back into her head and she became unresponsive for a few seconds. A few minutes later, she looked at them, but could no longer speak words that made sense to Larry. She will not squeeze my brother's hand with her right hand now--it had not been affected by the previous strokes.
I said, "I thought it would be tomorrow, not today" and asked him to call our hospice case manager.
I am not driving down there tonight. There is nothing I can do, and I know too well that I need sleep in order to function.
I've been able to share many words of love and appreciation with and for my mother over the last nine days. She reveled in knowing how much she was cared for and that she had also handed to me her gift of writing. I could see the pleasure fill her countenance--such joy it brought!
The angels who come to collect those preparing to enter fully into God's presence are gathering at her bedside now. When Mother is ready, they'll take her home. When Mother is ready . . . and I don't think she is yet. Even while I was writing this, some of her awareness and speech returned. But there will be yet another, and then another episode like this before that final one comes. I am as ready as I know how to be. And now I must try again to sleep.