Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Was That Goodbye?

Tonight I took dinner to my parents. Mindy was supposed to go with me, so I gave Rick the night off. Then Mindy got a headache and what she called a "really bad feeling." I waited until last minute to see if she could go with me, but finally went by myself. It was a good thing Mindy didn't go visit Mom and Dad tonight.

I could tell right away that something was wrong with Mom. She wouldn't sit at her usual place at the table. She ate a few nibbles of corn and then just stood by the table, weaving back and forth. She was fretting about something, and her eyelids were puffy, so I wondered if she had been crying earlier, but Dad said they'd had a good day. Mom always, always, washes the dishes after dinner (three plates, three glasses, and our silverware). If I try to help, she shoos me away. When I washed the dishes tonight, she just kept fidgeting around the kitchen.

After dinner Mom disappeared for a few minutes, and then I heard a soft "help me!" I found her collapsed on the stairs. She didn't faint, I think she just missed her footing and fell. I could feel her fragile body wobbling. I held on to her for a few moments, and realized she was too weak to make it any further. I picked up my little mom and carried her to her to her room, and placed her on the bed.

I carried my mother to her bed. I never thought I'd hear myself say such a thing. She was too weak to even lie down by herself. It was so weird. Mom just sat there shaking. I took off her dress, and helped her put on her nightgown. By this time Mom was starting to panic. I'm not sure why she was frightened, but since she was so afraid, I helped her lie down on her pillow. I have to say it again, it was so weird. She couldn't put her legs down. It was like her knees had locked in to place and wouldn't budge. I tried to move her in to a more comfortable position, but she stayed kind of sideways across her bed.

After Mom was settled in bed, Dad called me in to the other room for a minute. He begged me not to take her to the hospital. He called her behavior an episode, and told me that it only happens once in a while. Dad admitted that she really should be in a permanent health-care facility, but he knew it would break her heart. He's right. I promised him that I would stay with her until she was okay, so he relaxed and went downstairs.

Mom kept moving her hands nervously across the sheets, so I turned off the light, and lied down next to her. Sideways, of course. We held hands, and I softly sang her all of her favorite songs. That calmed her down, but every few minutes she would cry. She cried because each of the songs meant something to her. I asked her if she wanted me to stop singing, but she didn't want me to stop. She told me that she loved me and some other sweet mixed up words.

It felt good lying next to my mother. It felt right, holding her hand, and comforting her as one would a frightened child. Mom kept telling me words like love and wonderful and always, but she was not able to say a complete sentence. Still, I knew what she was saying. She was telling me that she loved me. She talked about loving all of us so much. She said it over and over again, and then I would tell her that I loved her. That we all loved her. Then I would sing another song, mostly because I didn't know what else to do.

It is obvious that Mom has no physical strength now. She hardly eats anything. We all know it won't be long now ... I wanted so much to tell her that I'd miss her so very much. But it didn't feel right. I thought it might make her even more frightened. Finally I told her that I was just going to stay by her until she fell asleep. She was okay with that, and closed her eyes. Pretty soon she was breathing deeply, but it didn't sound like normal breathing. I stroked her arm and cried.

I wanted to tell her it was okay to go. At times it got so quiet, I had to check to see if she was still breathing . The strange thing is, I am not afraid to see her die. It will break my heart, but I can see that she is ready to go. It won't be long before she is unable to get out of bed at all, she has so little strength left. We will have to get a home-nurse to help her now, there is nothing more anyone could do for her in a hospital

Tears spilled down my face as I rested beside her. It suddenly occured to me that she would not be able to leave while I was with her. The feeling was so strong within me. Being able to spend some time with her, as she slept in her bed, would have to be enough for me.

She only slept for an hour, and then suddenly sat up. She was incoherent and confused, and tried to stand up. I caught her before she fell again, and asked her what she wanted. It was scary because she didn't know how to tell me, and I had no idea what she wanted me to do.

Finally I figured out that she wanted me to put her slippers on and take her downstairs. I helped her down the stairs, and we found Dad sitting in the living room. Mom took Dad's hand and then told me it was alright for me to go. Dad got a look of panic on his face, and told me not to leave. But I know my mother. I knew she wanted me to leave.

I finally coaxed Dad in to taking Mom back up to bed. She told me again to go home, and that I could come back tomorrow. Poor Dad whispered to me to stay, but Mom would not go to bed until I left, so I made sure she got in to bed safely. As I said goodbye to Dad, I told him that I thought that Mom was trying to say goodbye to me.

"Are you scared, Dad?" I asked. I meant was he afraid that she was trying to saying goodbye. He understood, and said no. My dad knows as well as I do that Mom is ready to go.

As I drove home, I started to cry again. I reached in to my purse to grab a tissue, and fumbled upon a few apples and some candy. Dad must have put the treats in to my bag while I was with Mom. That made me cry even more. Tonight I probably won't be sleeping much. I'm wondering if that was Mom's way of telling me goodbye.

1 comment:

MMack said...

I think sometimes it's nice to have good-bye moments like that. They are memories to hold onto and cherish until we see them again. I look forward to the next life. I imagine the blocks and trials we have here will erased and we can just enjoy each other more. Wouldn't that be nice? I imagine some front porch sitting.