I have been silent on the old blog for a while. Just couldn’t wrap my mind around what I wanted to say. But tonight I want to share about my mom.
Many of you know that I have been responsible for my parents for over three years while they have been in a nursing home situation, with my dad passing away February 15th, 2009. It has been an extremely long, exhausting, humbling journey. My mom came under hospice care last year at this exact time and they have done a great job at managing her care and keeping her out of the hospital. She has been at an assisted living facility for the last 14 months. She has had a couple of serious bouts where we didn’t think she would make it, the last of which was pneumonia in early October. Somehow she has managed to come through it but this last time dementia hit her with a vengeance. We don’t know if she has had mini strokes but her memory and awareness of where she is, both in place and time, has been affected.
It has been a frustrating and painful thing to watch her deteriorate over the last several weeks. She began to come alive at night with her mind telling her body to do things it shouldn’t be able to do physically. She wandered into other patient’s rooms, at times not completely dressed. This past Monday she trashed her room: dumped her water bottles out; emptied the trash can on the floor; tore her sheets off the bed; put her nightgown in the potty chair; flung kleenex all over the place. So not the dignified and proper woman I’ve known all my life. We did find out she had a Urinary Tract Infection which I know can have an adverse effect on behaviors, especially those of an older adult. I was hoping once the antibiotic took effect that her anxiety and bizarre behaviors would cease. Unfortunately that was not the case.
Last night (the 23rd) I stayed with her until about 8:00 pm, redirecting her back to her bed, making sure she kept her oxygen on, telling her that her mother was okay and my dad was at home. She put her hands together much like a little child and I watched as her lips moved silently. I could tell she was praying, something I had never seen her do before in that way. She then told me she thought too much, worried too much and didn’t trust enough. Mom asked me to pray that she would be at peace with the situation. I prayed with her as I did every time I left the facility for the night.
Around 4:00 am Tim heard the cell phones ring. For weeks I have slept with it by my bed but had recently released that for the need to sleep soundly. Neither of us heard the first calls (from the facility director, hospice and the emergency room). When I finally spoke to the ER I was told my mom had gone outside and the staff had found her in the grass. Her body temperature was down to 82 degrees so she had been outside for a while. They wanted to know if I wanted her on a breathing tube and I said no because she didn’t want heroic measures taken. Tim and I threw on our clothes and headed to the hospital. When we were told the chaplain would be with us in a moment I knew she was gone. She never regained consciousness after they found her outside in the freezing cold.
Today (Christmas Eve) has been a blur of phone calls, questions, speaking with a police detective, hospice, making arrangements at the funeral home. Then there was opening presents with Rachel’s beau, a meal from friends, a special Christmas Eve service at church, dinner as a family, opening the traditional pajama presents and watching part of a movie together. Life moves on. Families need to celebrate and rejoice in the traditions and normality. There is a time for grief, for remembering a life well lived and a faithful woman loved by her family. But tomorrow is Christmas and we will celebrate in the blessing that is family and rejoice that my mom is dancing with my dad and praising her Savior.