Roger's 90 year-old mother* is dying. She's been actively dying since last Sunday, October 16th, when she ended up in the emergency room after a fall. We went to the ER, but she no longer recognized us, or Roger's sister and brother. Her mental capacity had been diminishing for several months, but this was a rather precipitous decline into full-blown dementia in a short amount of time. She had a compression fracture, but it was deemed not life threatening. She had bronchitis, also not life threatening. She spent the night in the hospital, and then Roger and I moved her to hospice care on Monday, October 17th. During the ride in the car she was like a child. She said, "Nice car. Pretty day. Nice car. Pretty day." The above photo is the view outside her hospice room. The double doors open and her bed could be taken out there, if she wanted to be in the sunshine. Last Monday, we thought that might be a possibility.
But on that Monday, she ate only four spoonfuls of jello and was deeply agitated. She could see the beautiful outdoors from her bed, but was not lucid enough to know she could go. On Tuesday, she had chocolate pudding and repeated "choo-choo, choo-choo" and "teacher teacher" for several hours. She no longer looked toward the doors or windows. On Wednesday, she had more chocolate pudding and drops of water delivered by a small straw, she said "I like to dress up" for several hours. Since Thursday- NOTHING. No food. No words.
She is on morphine and ativan.
We are waiting for her to die. She is on her own exit plan and timetable. It is an interesting thing to consider-- someone's permanent exit from life. Watching her do this is a lesson for us about utter stress and exhaustion; sadness and anticipation; love and forgiveness. We talk to her quietly everyday. We've read that the ability to hear is the last sense to go. She does stir a bit when people go to her bedside. But so much of her has already been relinquished that her eyes see nothing familiar when they flutter open for a second. She is a heartbeat in a body only, nothing else seems to be left.
And we are waiting for our first grandchild to be born some time in the next two weeks. Reminds us of Bob Dylan's: (s)he not busy being born is busy dying. Ain't that the truth.
*Roger's mother's 91st birthday is Tuesday, October 25th. We're wondering....
Roger's mom passed away Monday, October 24th at noon.