I knew this would happen and some point and I think it is now. Mom is really starting to get noticeably weaker. The realization started for me on Tuesday morning when I called her and she told me that she had not slept all night. I called Pat the Hospice Nurse and asked her to check in on her.
Every day, up to this point, my mom would have her breakfast in bed, then they would dress her and move her to the big lazy boy chair in her room where she would spend most of her day. Some days the nursing staff would take her for walks outside in her wheelchair and other times she would just stay in her chair until after dinner when they got her ready for bed.
She would also ring for the nurses when she had to go to the bathroom and they would lift her on to a throne-like (I guess that is why the call it the throne) commode where she would do her business. Pat told me that on Tuesday when the nurses lifted her, she passed out on them. When she did, she slipped a little in their grasp (it is now taking two of them to move her at any time) and she scraped her knee and her arm. My mom’s skin is paper thin, and so these scrapes are painful and heal very slowly. So Pat told me she recommended that mom spend most of her time in bed and both mom and I agreed. She needs to call if she needs to go to the bathroom, and they now provide her with a bed pan.
Pat told me she had a conversation with mom and got mom to admit that the reason she had not slept the night before was because she was afraid of dying. Mom has even told my aunt that she wants to see a priest – and I have arranged for that.
She is eating noticeably less and it is very difficult for her to eat because I think her eyesight has gotten a lot worse as well. We are having a care conference on Tuesday and I am going to ask them to assit her with eating from now on. I was there today at lunch and noticed that it really tired her out to try to eat – just the process of trying to get food on a fork or spoon and into her mouth without spilling it all over herself. When I helped her, I think she was willing to eat a little more, but even with that she only ate about a quarter of her food. All she wants to do now is sleep.
Yesterday she told me that I was a good daughter and that she finally recognizes that I am really an adult and not a child anymore. She told me that she was amazed at how I survived this past summer and that she is truly grateful to have a daughter like me. She told me that she knows she does not have anything to worry about and that I will take care of everything.
It is very hard to see her this way – this is not the mom I have know all of my life – the vibrant, energetic woman who always wanted to be going places and doing things. It is such a shame that the last few months have had to be this way for her – just slowly wasting away, slowly getting weaker. I get mad about that sometimes. She told me the other day that she is not ready to die and yet she talks a lot more about death these days.
Yesterday I was able to give her a treat. When I cleaned out her apartment, I found a video that my sister-in-law had taken at my dad’s surprise 75th birthday party. It was held in Chicago. With current technology, I was able to transfer that video onto a disc and I played it on my laptop for my mom yesterday. The neat thing about that video is that at one point, the room becomes very quiet as my dad thanks everyone for coming and says that the party was one of the more special moments in his life. My mom got to hear my dad’s voice once again. When I was transferring the video, Nick asked me if I really wanted to show it to her – he was afraid it would make her cry. I said I wanted to, and I was surprised – she did not cry. What she did was show me a glimmer of what I know as my mom – she turned to me and she said "He really never had a lot to say, did he?" and we both laughed.
I hope I can stay strong because in my gut and in my heart I know that things are changing. I just want my mom to be at peace – whatever that means for her. The rest I will deal with because, as my mom finally recognized, I am all grown up. But if being grown up means I can no longer have my mommy, I’m not all that sure I want to be.