Granting My Mother’s Final Wish
I wonder if they know how ridiculous they sound.
The ones trying to sell my mother on further treatment.
How do you convince a woman months away from her 80th birthday that she should sign up a cacophony of torture?
“We can put in a feeding tube for a couple of weeks,” their pitch began. “We’ll send you to a nursing home where you’ll be connected to an IV, sit in diapers, and wait. If you do well enough we’ll bring you back to the hospital for brain surgery, with no guarantees we’ll get all your newly discovered brain tumors or that you won’t have more strokes.”
My mother gave these doctors her famous Evil Eye.
I actually kind of felt sorry for them.
The Evil Eye has always been my 5’1”, 95 lb. mother’s superpower.
The same one that got us to behave in a restaurant when we were little.
To clean our rooms.
Cut out any nonsense we kids might be up to.
Batting those doctors away like pesky flies, she looked right at me and me our marching orders.
“I want comfort. I just want comfort.”
To be completely honest my sassy mother said, “Call Dr. Kervorkian.”
“Sadly, he’s not available, Mom. He actually died a few years ago.”
“Another disappointment,” she said tossing her hands.
The truth is my 16-year-old dog has more options to end her life than my 80-year-old mother with lymphoma, two brain tumors and two strokes.
And so we headed for hospice.
Those angels on earth who promised to make my mother as comfortable as possible as she continued to refuse any food or liquids.
Five days of a morphine and methadone haze.
My brother, sister, sister-in-law and I by her side.
Until about the last 12-hours, she could nod letting us know she knew we were there.
I know my family is hardly the first.
The best I can say it was an honor.
Just as she birthed the three of us in, we stood by her side to see her out.
Though I’ve never delivered a baby, I imagine there are so many parallels.
The endless hours were painful.
There was a lack of control.
It was messy.
it was magnificent.
Often all at the same time.
On the fifth day, hospice called us out of her room to have a family meeting.
We were in a conference room across the hall for 10 minutes.
When we came back, she was gone.
My mother’s body was in the same position as when we left.
It was so clear she was nowhere in that room.
How perfect for our independent mother.
As if she said, “Thank you for everything. Now, you kids will give me 10 minutes of privacy.”
She is free.
I wonder, Dear Reader, if you can know how wonderful that feels.
And if you connect with my column on being there for a parent, you might like my book–