24 Sep 2009

Sam’s Mom

Posted by Sam

September 22, 2009

We be very tired and untethered. My Mother died Saturday morning at the Life Care Center of Bothell.  It was a long and painful process. She was very brave and uncomplaining; my brother and I have the comfort of knowing we did all we could to make her last months and days comfortable

So many of you wrote with kind words based on your own experiences with a mother’s death. Thank you. I saved them and read them often. My friend Maril actually sent me my own words of encouragement, words I had sent to her when her Mom died 25 years ago. I was so touched.

Dave has been my rock, doing whatever he could, and doing without a lot of the time since we got here in late June. I saw Mother every day up until the last week, when we were able to move her into a private room, where I had a place to sleep overnight. I held her hand as she died.

The 90 days she was in the skilled nursing facility, the goal was pain management. We never achieved that goal. When we finally got Hospice to help, we still had to deal with three shift nurses trying to “make her better.” In the last half hour of Mother’s life, the nurse was upset about a failing oxygen saturation. “She’s on two liters but fading–should I give her three liters?” It haunts me that there was so little respect for the dying process that last night.

I’m trying to remember the good parts: the little nurse who gave her butterfly kisses, the gentleness of the men who helped her in the bathroom. A beautiful young aide from Cameroon was Mother’s favorite. Chrystelle touched her and cooed to her. After Mother died Chrystelle asked if she could wash her body. When Steve and I came back, Chrystelle had washed and wrapped Mother in a clean sheet and the terrible smells of dying were replaced with a room full of “Oscar,” Mother’s fragrance. Chrystelle had found her body lotion.

When I packed up all of Mother’s clothes, cleaning out her apartment, I took her many handkerchiefs. We both like using hankies, and she had a lot of them. When I packed a bag for Friday night, and headed up to relieve Steve, I had grabbed a couple of Mother’s hankies.

As Steve and I walked behind her body to the funeral home car, I unwrapped a hankie. Looking for a dry spot I realized it was embroidered. It said “Today is a very special day.”

Love to you all,

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