You hear all sorts of things. They can hear you. They feel your presence. They want you there with them. They don't want you there. And on and on. What I'm talking about is listening to the various opinions caregivers offer when one of your loved ones is in hospice care.
You see, about 10 days ago, my mom suffered a series of strokes that left her incapacitated. I had just called her in the hospital, and heard some sort of commotion - I didn't know what it was then, but now I think it was probably Roz having the last of that series of strokes; doing what hospitals do, they placed her on a respirator, and notified my older sister, who then notified my younger sister and me. We convened in Florida, visited her, and quickly made the decision that she had wanted - which was to remove the respirator.
And that's what the docs did that Saturday morning. If the person survives for more than 30 minutes, they move them into hospice...my mother did, and we started what I guess could realistically be called a vigil. For over 3 long, long days, my sisters, Significant Eater and I visited with, talked to, held hands with, played music for, moistened the lips of and yes - cried plenty - with my mom in that hospice room.
I think sons have unique relationships with their mothers. My mother had driven me crazy for years...but I guess that's part of the deal. I mean, she knew she drove me crazy and she also knew she couldn't guilt me out - she saved that for one or both of my sisters (who, by the way, she also drove crazy; trust me - I didn't have the exclusive on that).
I also figured that maybe some of these hospice people/books/internet stuff knew what they were talking about. So, when I was alone in that room with mom, I talked to her and asked her to try to blink if she could hear me. And then, at least to my eyes, she appeared to blink. And I continued to tell her what had happened to her, how we were all there with her, how her dog (her constant companion) was missing her and was going to be taken care of, and on and on. And I think there were more attempts at blinking. That brought me a small measure of comfort, as I was able to tell her how much I, and all of us loved her...and that it was okay for her to go.
Last Tuesday, a week ago today, we were all in her room with her - we had been there for quite a while when we all decided to go out for dinner. Of course, we told Roz that we were leaving and we'd be back after dinner to say good night. The four of us went out and had a nice Japanese meal in downtown Delray Beach. And just as we finished eating, my phone rang with that call we were all waiting for - mom had waited for dinner to be over and was gone.
Today would've been my mom's 86th birthday. Sig Eater and I and my sisters were all planning to visit her on or around her birthday as we did nearly every year. We visited, but certainly not in the way we had hoped...and I'm sorry I didn't get to see her before the strokes hit. The consolation is that she's at peace and hopefully partying with our dad. So Happy Birthday, mom. We all miss you greatly already, we all love you and you'll always be with us...